NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Worker Mobility in a Global Labor Market: Evidence from the United Arab Emirates

Suresh Naidu, Yaw Nyarko, Shing-Yi Wang

NBER Working Paper No. 20388
Issued in August 2014
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Labor Studies

In 2011, a reform in the United Arab Emirates allowed any employer to renew a migrant's visa upon contract expiration without written permission from the initial employer. We find that the reform increased incumbent migrants' earnings and firm retention of these workers. This occurs despite an increase in employer transitions, and is driven by a fall in country exits. While the outcomes of workers already in the United Arab Emirates improved, our analysis suggests that the reform decreased demand for new migrant workers and lowered their earnings. These results are consistent with a model in which the reform reduces the monopsony power of firms.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w20388

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