A seminar with Trevor Johnston, MEI Research Fellow and and Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Michigan. Part of the Middle East Initiative Research Fellow Seminar Series.

Moderated by Tarek Masoud, Sultan of Oman Associate Professor of International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School.

Throughout the Arabian Gulf, the immigration law known as the kafala gives private firms control over their workers' mobility, housing, and general welfare. These states have effectively abdicated almost any responsibility over migrants, providing firms nearly unchecked power over their workers' daily lives. In this presentation, I consider the welfare implications of this system, and explore the conditions under which migrants can extract concessions from firms. Drawing on a nationally representative survey from Qatar, I show that migrants with a contract and credible exit options hold greater bargaining power, which strongly associates with improved perceptions of welfare and overall satisfaction.

For more about Trevor Johnston, click here.