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Are Migrant Agricultural Workers Replacing the Local Workforce?

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  • Kimhi, Ayal

Abstract

Migration patterns in Israeli agriculture have gone through different phases. Labor flowed into farming until the country became self‐sufficient in terms of food supply. Then, self‐employed farmers exited gradually while production continued to increase, destined for export markets. This process intensified considerably when foreign labor was allowed to enter the country. Traditional production theory predicts that migrant workers will drive local workers to lose their jobs, but the Israeli data show that the number of Israeli hired farm workers has actually increased since the arrival of foreign labor. This paper develops a modified theoretical model in which farm labor is heterogeneous, so that changes in the number of foreign and local hired workers are not necessarily opposite in sign. The results of the model are consistent with the observation that the availability of foreign labor has led to an increase in the production and export of labor‐intensive horticultural products. Farms have become larger and more specialized, and this has led to labor specialization, with foreign workers performing the manual tasks and Israeli hired employees performing the managerial and professional ones. We conclude that the inflow of foreign workers has led to an irreversible structural change in Israeli agriculture. Surrendering to the popular demand to reduce the number of foreign workers for the benefit of local workers will actually lessen the demand for local farm workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Kimhi, Ayal, 2015. "Are Migrant Agricultural Workers Replacing the Local Workforce?," 2015 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 3-5, 2015, Boston, Massachusetts 189689, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:assa15:189689
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.189689
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/189689/files/Kimhi_%20A.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ayal Kimhi, 1995. "Differential Human Capital Investments and the Choice of Successor in Family Farms," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 77(3), pages 719-724.
    2. Napasintuwong, Orachos & Emerson, Robert D., 2006. "Immigrant Workers and Technological Change in U.S. Agriculture: A Profit Maximization Approach of Induced Innovation," 2006 Annual Meeting, August 12-18, 2006, Queensland, Australia 25505, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    3. Robert E. Lucas, Jr., 2004. "Life Earnings and Rural-Urban Migration," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 29-59, February.
    4. Kislev, Yoav & Leerman, Zvi & Zusman, Pinhas, 1991. "Recent Experience with Cooperative Farm Credit in Israel," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(4), pages 773-789, July.
    5. Kimhi, Ayal, 2009. "Heterogeneity, Specialization and Social Cohesion in Israeli Moshav Cooperatives," Journal of Rural Cooperation, Hebrew University, Center for Agricultural Economic Research, vol. 37(1), pages 1-13.
    6. Sebastian Hess & Stephan von Cramon-Taubadel & Ulrike Zschache & Ludwig Theuvsen & Daniela Kleinschmit, 2012. "Explaining the puzzling persistence of restrictions on seasonal farm labour in Germany," European Review of Agricultural Economics, Foundation for the European Review of Agricultural Economics, vol. 39(4), pages 707-728, September.
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    Keywords

    Agribusiness; Agricultural Finance; Labor and Human Capital;

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