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The Price of Rights

The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    The Price of Rights
    Book Description:

    Many low-income countries and development organizations are calling for greater liberalization of labor immigration policies in high-income countries. At the same time, human rights organizations and migrant rights advocates demand more equal rights for migrant workers. The Price of Rights shows why you cannot always have both.

    Examining labor immigration policies in over forty countries, as well as policy drivers in major migrant-receiving and migrant-sending states, Martin Ruhs finds that there are trade-offs in the policies of high-income countries between openness to admitting migrant workers and some of the rights granted to migrants after admission. Insisting on greater equality of rights for migrant workers can come at the price of more restrictive admission policies, especially for lower-skilled workers. Ruhs advocates the liberalization of international labor migration through temporary migration programs that protect a universal set of core rights and account for the interests of nation-states by restricting a few specific rights that create net costs for receiving countries.

    The Price of Rights analyzes how high-income countries restrict the rights of migrant workers as part of their labor immigration policies and discusses the implications for global debates about regulating labor migration and protecting migrants. It comprehensively looks at the tensions between human rights and citizenship rights, the agency and interests of migrants and states, and the determinants and ethics of labor immigration policy.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4860-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Business, Economics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Chapter 1 The Rights of Migrant Workers: Reframing the Debate
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1990, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW). It stipulates a very comprehensive set of civil, political, economic, and social rights for migrants, including those living and/or working abroad illegally. Hailed as a major achievement in the struggle for improving the rights of migrants, the CMW has become a cornerstone of the human rights-based approach to regulating labor immigration advocated by many national and international organizations concerned with the protection of migrant workers. Kofi Annan, the former UN...

  6. Chapter 2 The Human Rights of Migrant Workers: Why Do So Few Countries Care?
    (pp. 13-25)

    “Migrant rights are human rights” is a common argument made by migrant rights advocates around the world. In 1990, the United Nations adopted a new human rights treaty that specifically deals with the rights of migrant workers and their families. After more than twenty years, fewer than fifty countries, none of them major immigration countries, have ratified this treaty. Even ardent supporters of the human rights approach to migration acknowledge that nation-states’ response to the 1990 convention has been extremely disappointing. The great majority of countries clearly do not consider migrant rights as human rights that should be guaranteed by...

  7. Chapter 3 Nation-States, Labor Immigration, and Migrant Rights: What Can We Expect?
    (pp. 26-52)

    How can we expect high-income countries to regulate the rights of migrant workers as part of their labor immigration policies? What are the likely relationships between policies for regulating the admission (openness and selection) and rights of migrant workers? Addressing these questions requires a theoretical framework for conceptualizing the potential determinants and mechanics of national labor immigration policymaking. This chapter develops a simple, flexible model of labor immigration policy and suggests testable hypotheses for empirical analysis.

    The chapter is divided into three parts. It begins with a discussion of the potential objectives of labor immigration policies in high-income countries, and...

  8. Chapter 4 An Empirical Analysis of Labor Immigration Programs in Forty-Six Countries
    (pp. 53-90)

    This chapter analyzes the key features of labor immigration programs in high and middle-income countries in practice. I construct and scrutinize two separate indexes that measure the openness of labor immigration programs in forty-six high- and middle-income countries to admitting migrant workers, and the legal rights (civil and political, economic, social, residency, and family reunion rights) granted to migrant workers admitted under these programs. The term labor immigration program refers to a set of policies that regulate the admission, employment, and rights of migrant workers. Most but not all countries operate multiple and different labor immigration programs for admitting different...

  9. Chapter 5 Regulating the Admission and Rights of Migrant Workers: Policy Rationales in High-Income Countries
    (pp. 91-121)

    What explains the relationships between openness, skills, and rights in labor immigration policies? Why are labor immigration programs that target higher-skilled workers characterized by greater openness and more rights for migrants than programs that admit lower-skilled workers? What drives the trade-off between openness and some migrant rights? The theoretical framework and hypotheses developed in chapter 3 suggest that the answers may be found in national policymakers’ assessments of the multifaceted benefits and costs of admitting migrants, and granting or denying specific rights to migrant workers of different skill levels.

    This chapter explores the drivers of the relationships between openness, skills,...

  10. Chapter 6 Labor Emigration and Rights Abroad: The Perspectives of Migrants and Their Countries of Origin
    (pp. 122-153)

    Labor immigration policies are “made” in migrant-receiving countries, but they have important consequences for migrants and their countries of origin. This chapter looks at two interrelated questions. How do high-income countries’ restrictions of labor immigration and migrant rights affect the interests of migrants along with their countries of origin? How have migrants and sending countries engaged with these restrictions in practice?

    These questions are of central importance to this book’s analysis because the interests of migrants and sending countries can play a crucial role in supporting, sustaining, or undermining particular labor immigration policies in high-income countries. Understanding how migrants and...

  11. Chapter 7 The Ethics of Labor Immigration Policy
    (pp. 154-186)

    Up to this point, the book has focused on exploring the characteristics and drivers of policies for regulating the admission and rights of migrant workers in high- and middle-income countries. The analysis has shown that labor immigration programs that target higher-skilled migrant workers are more open and grant migrants more rights than programs targeting lower-skilled migrant workers. It has also suggested that high-income countries’ labor immigration policies are often characterized by a trade-off between openness and specific rights granted to migrant workers after admission. The rights that have been restricted in practice as part of this policy trade-off include selected...

  12. Chapter 8 The Price of Rights: What Next for Human Rights–Based Approaches to International Labor Migration?
    (pp. 187-200)

    In most high-income countries, the majority of migrant workers are admitted and employed under TMPs that in one way or another restrict migrants’ rights. The rights of migrant workers that are most frequently restricted include the right to free choice of employment, social rights (i.e., equal access to public services and welfare benefits), the right to permanent residence and citizenship, and the right to family reunion. In countries that are not liberal democracies, such as the GCC countries and Singapore, some migrant workers employed under temporary labor immigration programs are also denied some basic civil and political rights.

    This book...

  13. Appendix 1 Tables A.1–A.10
    (pp. 201-216)
  14. Appendix 2 Overview of Openness Indicators
    (pp. 217-220)
  15. Appendix 3 Overview of Migrant Rights Indicators
    (pp. 221-226)
  16. References
    (pp. 227-242)
  17. Index
    (pp. 243-254)