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Who Needs Migrant Workers?Labour shortages, immigration, and public policy$
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Martin Ruhs and Bridget Anderson

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580590

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580590.001.0001

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Migrant Workers: Who Needs Them? A Framework for the Analysis of Staff Shortages, Immigration, and Public Policy

Migrant Workers: Who Needs Them? A Framework for the Analysis of Staff Shortages, Immigration, and Public Policy

Chapter:
(p.15) 2 Migrant Workers: Who Needs Them? A Framework for the Analysis of Staff Shortages, Immigration, and Public Policy
Source:
Who Needs Migrant Workers?
Author(s):

Bridget Anderson

Martin Ruhs

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580590.003.0002

This chapter provides a comprehensive conceptual framework for evaluating employer demand for migrant labour in high‐income countries. It discusses four key issues that, the chapter argues, are fundamental to the analysis of shortages, immigration, and public policy: (i) the characteristics, dimensions, and determinants of employer demand for labour (What are employers looking for?); (ii) characteristics of and segmentations in labour supply (Who does what?); (iii) employers' recruitment practices and use of migrant labour (How and whom do employers recruit?); and (iv) immigration and alternative responses to perceived staff shortages (A need for migrant labour?). The chapter suggests that in many sectors increasing employer demand for migrant workers can, to a significant degree, be explained by ‘system effects’ that ‘produce’ certain types of domestic labour shortages. System effects arise from the institutional and regulatory frameworks of the labour market and from wider public policies (e.g. welfare and social policies), many of which are not ostensibly to do with the labour market. These interact with a dynamic social context where job status and the gendered nature of work are important factors. Most of these system effects are outside the control of individual employers and workers and are heavily (but not exclusively) influenced by the state.

Keywords:   labour shortages, immigration, public policy, economic downturn

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