Working Paper

Picture This: Social Distance and the Mistreatment of Migrant Workers

Kiel Working Papers, 2237 Download PDF

We experimentally study an intervention to reduce mistreatment of Filipino overseas domestic workers (DWs) by their employers. Encouraging DWs to show their employers a family photo while providing a small gift when starting employment reduced DW mistreatment, increased their job satisfaction, and increased the likelihood of contract extension. While generally unaware of the intervention, DWs’ families staying behind become more positive about international labor migration. An online experiment with potential employers suggests that the effect operates through a reduction in employers’ perceived social distance from their employees.


Vojtech Bartos
Victoria Licuanan
Andreas Steinmayr
Erwin Tiongson
Dean Yang


Publication Date
JEL Classification
D9, J61