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Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf

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  • Clemens, Michael A.

    () (Center for Global Development)

Abstract

Despite the large individual benefits of guest work by the poor in rich countries, agencies charged with global poverty reduction do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest work is viewed as a repugnant transaction – one whose harmful side-effects might cause third parties to discourage it. This paper sets out six criteria for a transaction to be repugnant in consequentialist terms, and conducts uncommon tests for repugnance: It uses these criteria to formulate several empirical tests for the repugnance of guest work by Indian construction workers in the United Arab Emirates. It separates the effects of guest work from the correlates of guest work using a natural experiment that quasi-exogenously allocated guest work among a group of several thousand job applicants. The effects offer little evidence that guest work in this setting is typically the cause of repugnant consequences.

Suggested Citation

  • Clemens, Michael A., 2017. "Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf," IZA Discussion Papers 11061, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp11061
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    migration; guestwork; temporary; Gulf; Dubai; UAE; rights; abuse; exploitation; migrant; immigrant; labor; mobility; scheme; visa; construction; seasonal; repugnant; externality; regret; behavioral;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O19 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations

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