Authoritarian Abdication: Bargaining Power and the Role of Firms in Migrant Welfare

Authoritarian Abdication: Bargaining Power and the Role of Firms in Migrant Welfare Throughout the Arabian Gulf, the immigration law known as the kafala formally delegates to firms and other “sponsors” control over migrants’ mobility, housing, and general welfare. These states have abdicated almost any responsibility over migrants, giving firms nearly unchecked power over their workers’ daily lives. In this paper, I consider the welfare implications of this system and explore the conditions under which migrants can extract concessions from firms. Drawing on a nationally representative survey from Qatar, I show that migrant satisfaction, workplace difficulties, and overall quality of life varies widely across camps and firms. In explaining this variation, I argue that welfare crucially depends on an individual’s bargaining power. Migrants with a contract or credible exit options hold greater bargaining power, which strongly associates with improved perceptions of welfare. All told, contracts and exit options appear to provide even the most vulnerable workers a means of protection within authoritarian states. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Comparative International Development Springer Journals

Authoritarian Abdication: Bargaining Power and the Role of Firms in Migrant Welfare

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Social Sciences; Social Sciences, general
ISSN
0039-3606
eISSN
1936-6167
D.O.I.
10.1007/s12116-016-9225-7
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Throughout the Arabian Gulf, the immigration law known as the kafala formally delegates to firms and other “sponsors” control over migrants’ mobility, housing, and general welfare. These states have abdicated almost any responsibility over migrants, giving firms nearly unchecked power over their workers’ daily lives. In this paper, I consider the welfare implications of this system and explore the conditions under which migrants can extract concessions from firms. Drawing on a nationally representative survey from Qatar, I show that migrant satisfaction, workplace difficulties, and overall quality of life varies widely across camps and firms. In explaining this variation, I argue that welfare crucially depends on an individual’s bargaining power. Migrants with a contract or credible exit options hold greater bargaining power, which strongly associates with improved perceptions of welfare. All told, contracts and exit options appear to provide even the most vulnerable workers a means of protection within authoritarian states.

Journal

Studies in Comparative International DevelopmentSpringer Journals

Published: Aug 15, 2016

References

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