Picture This: Social Distance and the Mistreatment of Migrant Workers

Toman Barsbai, Vojtech Bartos, Victoria Licuanan, Andreas Steinmayr, Erwin Tiongson, Dean Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


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, treated DWs’ families who remained in the Philippines came to view international labor migration more positively. An online experiment with potential employers suggests that the effect operates through a reduction in employers’ perceived social distance from their employees.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Political Economy Microeconomics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 May 2024

Bibliographical note

This paper was accepted on 8 May 2024. We thank Anna Jennifer Umlas for excellent project management and Jakob Beuschlein and Yasar Ersan for superb research assistance


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