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Por Necesidad” - Transnational Labor Movements, Informality and Wage Determination: An Exploratory Study of Maids on the U.S.-Mexican Border

Michael J. Pisani, David W. Yoskowitz


This paper investigates the market for domestic servants (maids) in a region along the U.S.-Mexico border (Laredo, Texas). Survey responses from 195 maids and 194 employers of maids indicate that the border environment plays a significant role in the movement of maid labor, the informality of maid labor as well as the wage determination of maid labor. Two distinct maid subgroups-live-in maids and day maids-as well as employers are discussed in detail. As expected, the "push" factor for becoming a maid was economic necessity while the "pull" factor was good pay. The employer was known to set the wage in a little over half the cases, maids set the wage rate about ten percent of the time and in the remaining cases wages were set through mutual bargaining. The reported results allow the creation of a baseline of data (e.g., demographics, legality, job search, border transparency, and employment statistics) for maids and their employers for further empirical investigation within the borderlands.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229