Working Paper

Picture This: Social Distance and the Mistreatment of Migrant Workers


  • Barsbai
  • T.
  • Bartos
  • V.
  • Licuanan
  • V.
  • Steinmayr
  • A.
  • Tiongson
  • E.
  • Yang
  • D.
Publication Date

We experimentally study an intervention to reduce mistreatment of Filipino over?seas 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 likeli?hood of contract extension. While generally unaware of the intervention, DWs’ fam?ilies 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.


JEL Classification
D9, J61

Key Words

  • contract enforcement
  • dictator game
  • Labor migration
  • working conditions

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