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Rural Migration Blog

April 22, 2021

Lessons from Guest Worker Programs

Guest worker programs aim to add workers temporarily to the labor force without adding permanent residents to the population. Most countries have hire-local-workers-first policies, so they limit foreign workers to jobs that cannot be filled by local workers. Most 20th century programs were begun as temporary bridges to a future when guest workers would no longer be needed, as with Mexican Braceros in the US during WWII or Gastarbeiter in Germany in the 1960s.

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Migration and Development: The 3 R’s

Economic development, defined as increasing the standard of living for most individuals in a community and measured by a country’s average per capita income, ranged from under $500 per person in Burundi and Sudan to over $185,000 per person in Monaco in 2019, according to the World Bank. US per capita income was $65,000, and Mexico’s per capita income was $9,800.

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March 19, 2021

Labor Standards Enforcement in California Agriculture

California has a third of US farm workers and state labor standards laws that provide more protection for farm workers than federal laws. An analysis of 787 state labor law compliance investigations of California farms between 2016 and 2019 found that three-fourths of the farms owed back wages to their employees, and that most did not pay the back wages that were assessed by 2019.

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Farm Labor and the Prosperity Paradox

Most of the world’s workers were employed in agriculture until the 20th century, when economic development in industrial countries pushed and pulled farmers and farm workers into nonfarm jobs, where wages are generally higher and most jobs offer benefits that range from health insurance to pensions. Youth growing up on farms are often attracted to the bright lights of cities for opportunity, explaining why there is far more rural-urban than international migration.

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