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Guest Worker Migration Lab

Guest Worker Migration Lab

In the News

Stanford University

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Economic disparities and lack of legal migration pathways to higher-income countries are key drivers of immigration. Short-term seasonal work visas, such as the H-2A visa for temporary agricultural workers in the U.S., are the only legal pathways available for many migrants.

However, the H-2A program is controversial, raising questions about worker exploitation, job displacement, and bureaucratic red tape. Our project aims to address the social problem of economic migration by studying guestworker programs' impacts on migrants and destination countries.

Led by Beatriz Magaloni and Melanie Morten working in partnership with REDDES and Wafla, this project will conduct policy-relevant research in partnership with employers, migrants, and government agencies to provide empirical evidence on the impact of migration in areas such as wages, working conditions, economic investment, violence, and social trust and cohesion in their communities.

It also aims to identify ways to improve economic outcomes for migrants, origin communities, and destination countries. The Initiative will focus on the H-2A program and conduct the first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the program, studying migrants between Mexico and the U.S.

Key partners of this project include employers, migrants, and government agencies. We will collaborate with employers to study the impacts of the H-2A program on labor markets, wages, and working conditions and with migrants to ensure that their perspectives and experiences are considered. Government agencies will be consulted to ensure that policy recommendations are evidence-based and relevant to current policy debates. The research team will also provide opportunities for undergraduates, graduate students, and scholars to engage in research and policy analysis on economic migration.

Our goal is to provide policymakers and stakeholders with evidence-based recommendations to improve guest worker programs and ensure the welfare of workers.

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