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Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation

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  • Stark, Oded
  • Fan, C. Simon

Abstract

This paper develops a model of voluntary migration into degrading work. The essence of the model is a tension between two "bads:" that which arises from being relatively deprived at home, and that which arises from engaging in humiliating work away from home. Balancing between these two "bads" can give rise to an explicit, voluntary choice to engage in humiliating work. The paper identifies conditions under which a migrant will choose to engage in degrading work rather than being forced into it, to work abroad as a prostitute, say, rather than on a farm. The paper delineates the possible equilibria and finds that greater relative deprivation will make it more likely that the equilibrium outcome will be "engagement in prostitution." It is shown that under well specified conditions, every individual will work as a prostitute, yet every individual would be better off working on a farm. Put differently, when specific conditions are satisfied, there is a possibility of a "coordination failure:" if individuals believe that everyone else will choose to be a prostitute, this belief will be self-fulfilling. In this case, all the individuals choose to engage in prostitution, which renders each of them worse off. The paper discusses various policy implications. It is shown that a policy intervention (a crackdown on migrants' engagement in prostitution), if implemented strictly, can increase everyone's welfare, but when the policy is implemented loosely, cracking down on prostitution will only reduce individuals' welfare without reducing their engagement in prostitution.

Suggested Citation

  • Stark, Oded & Fan, C. Simon, 2011. "Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 241-247, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:77:y:2011:i:3:p:241-247
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    1. Assar Lindbeck & Sten Nyberg & Jörgen W. Weibull, 1999. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-35.
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    4. Rabin, Matthew, 1994. "Cognitive dissonance and social change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-194, March.
    5. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2007. "A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 55-63, February.
    6. Fuchs-Schundeln, Nicola & Alesina, Alberto, 2007. "Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," Scholarly Articles 4553032, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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    8. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2006. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 209-225, May.
    9. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-486, April.
    10. Alberto Alesina & Nichola Fuchs Schuendeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," NBER Working Papers 11700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. George A. Akerlof, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of which Unemployment may be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-775.
    12. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-1178, September.
    13. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    15. Postlewaite, Andrew, 1998. "The social basis of interdependent preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 42(3-5), pages 779-800, May.
    16. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
    17. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2011. "A Theory Of Migration As A Response To Occupational Stigma," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 549-571, May.
    18. Michael A. Quinn, 2006. "Relative Deprivation, Wage Differentials and Mexican Migration," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 135-153, February.
    19. Oded Stark & J. Taylor, 1989. "Relative deprivation and international migration oded stark," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 26(1), pages 1-14, February.
    20. Podder, Nripesh, 1996. "Relative Deprivation, Envy and Economic Inequality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 353-376.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Oded Stark & Marcin Jakubek, 2016. "Can a Concern for Status Reconcile Diverse Social Welfare Programs?," Research on Economic Inequality,in: Inequality after the 20th Century: Papers from the Sixth ECINEQ Meeting, volume 24, pages 235-246 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    2. Stark, Oded & Falniowski, Fryderyk & Jakubek, Marcin, 2016. "Consensus income distribution," Discussion Papers 250120, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    3. Oded Stark & Franz Rendl & Marcin Jakubek, 2012. "The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 331-344, April.
    4. Stark, Oded, 2015. "Comparing the Global and Merged with the Local and Separate: On a Downside to the Integration of Regions and Nations," East Asian Economic Review, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, vol. 19(4), pages 325-355, December.
    5. Sorger, Gerhard & Stark, Oded, 2013. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 1-9.
    6. Rémi BAZILLIER & Cristina TRANDAS-BOBOC & Oana CALAVREZO, 2014. "Employment vulnerability in Europe: Is there a migration effect?," LEO Working Papers / DR LEO 1825, Orleans Economics Laboratory / Laboratoire d'Economie d'Orleans (LEO), University of Orleans.
    7. Stark, Oded & Kobus, Martyna & Jakubek, Marcin, 2012. "A concern about low relative income, and the alignment of utilitarianism with egalitarianism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 235-238.
    8. Falkowski, Jan, 2013. "Does it matter how much land your neighbour owns? The functioning of land markets in Poland from a social comparison perspective," Factor Markets Working Papers 171, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    9. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:336:p:647-666 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
    11. Oded Stark & Ewa Zawojska, 2016. "Will a government find it financially easier to neutralize a looming protest if more groups are involved?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 435-450, December.
    12. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Integration, social distress, and policy formation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 318-321.
    13. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions and nations," Discussion Papers 122036, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
    14. repec:bla:revinw:v:63:y:2017:i:4:p:899-911 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Oded Stark, 2017. "Migration when Social Preferences are Ordinal: Steady-state Population Distribution and Social Welfare," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 647-666, October.
    16. Sonnabend, Hendrik, 2015. "Good Intentions and Unintended Evil? Clients’ Punishment in the Market for Sex Services with Voluntary and Involuntary Providers," EconStor Preprints 110682, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    17. Linguère Mbaye, 2014. "“Barcelona or die”: understanding illegal migration from Senegal," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 3(1), pages 1-19, December.
    18. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2014. "Reconciling the Rawlsian and the utilitarian approaches to the maximization of social welfare," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 439-444.
    19. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
    20. Magnus Hatlebakk, 2013. "Intergenerational determinants of occupational choice: The case of international labor migration from Nepal," CMI Working Papers 2, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
    21. Czyżewski, Bazyli & Poczta-Wajda, Agnieszka, 2016. "Effects of Policy and Market on Relative Income Deprivation of Agricultural Labour," 160th Seminar, December 1-2, 2016, Warsaw, Poland 249759, European Association of Agricultural Economists.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Migrants Relative deprivation Degrading work Humiliation Multiple equilibria Welfare assessment Policy implications;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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