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Authoritarian Abdication: Firms and Migrant Welfare in the Arabian Gulf

With the Marina Waterfront skyline in the background, laborers work at a construction site at the Palm Jumeirah, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili

PAST EVENT

Authoritarian Abdication: Firms and Migrant Welfare in the Arabian Gulf

Seminar
Series: Middle East Initiative Research Fellows Seminar Series
Open to the Public - Belfer Center Library, Littauer-369
February 12, 2016
12:00-1:30 p.m.

Related Project: Middle East Initiative

Description:

A seminar with Trevor Johnston, MEI Research Fellow and and Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Michigan. Part of the Middle East Initiative Research Fellow Seminar Series.

Moderated by Tarek Masoud, Sultan of Oman Associate Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.

Throughout the Arabian Gulf, the immigration law known as the kafala gives private firms control over their workers' mobility, housing, and general welfare. These states have effectively abdicated almost any responsibility over migrants, providing firms nearly unchecked power over their workers' daily lives. In this presentation, 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 migrants with a contract and credible exit options hold greater bargaining power, which strongly associates with improved perceptions of welfare and overall satisfaction.

For more about Trevor Johnston, click here.

Contact:

Middle East Initiative
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
124 Mt. Auburn Street Suite 100 Cambridge, MA 02138
Harvard Kennedy School
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Email: middle_east_initiative@hks.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 495-4087
Fax: (617) 496-9688