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. Studies in Comparative International Development Springer Journals

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

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Springer US
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Social Sciences; Social Sciences, general
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