are150-2011-fall-review-questions-1-answers - University of...

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University of California, Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ARE 150 Fall 2011 Philip Martin Dist 9/22/11 [email protected] Due 10/4/11 Answers to Review Questions 1 1. A revolving-door labor market replaces workers who leave with new entrants to keep employment stable, that is, the tenure of individuals in jobs tends to be short. The seasonal farm labor market resembles a revolving door in the sense that 15-20 percent of workers are new to US farm work, that is, if current trends continue, future seasonal farm workers are growing up today somewhere outside the US. There are several reasons for high turnover, including low annual earnings due to low hourly wages and seasonality that limits work hours. Implications of a revolving door labor market include: (1) a keen employer interest in immigration policy to ensure an inflow of newcomers to replace workers who exit; (2) difficulties developing stable unions because experienced workers who could be union leaders leave agriculture for better nonfarm jobs; and (3) tension between government programs that aim to reduce poverty among seasonal farm workers and their children by helping them to “escape” from seasonal farm work and resulting “farm labor shortages” that encourage immigration to get replacement workers. 2. A. Definitions of socio-economic problems often contain solutions. Farmers seeking to minimize production costs often define the seasonal farm labor problem in terms of costs—they want to pay relatively low wages to workers when they are needed and employed to hold down costs and remain competitive. The farmers’ preferred solution to the farm labor cost/competitiveness issue is to have government open border gates to allow the entry of newcomers from lower wage countries (or tolerate unauthorized migration). Worker advocates usually begin with “bad” farm labor market outcomes such as low wages, poor working conditions, and poor housing and ask government to (1) raise wages by increasing the minimum wage or enacting laws that tighten labor law regulations and encourage workers to join unions and (2) fund programs that assist poor farm workers and their families with housing, training, health and other services. In the past, farm worker unions urged restrictions on immigration to put upward pressure on farm wages, but today most farm worker unions see immigrants as a source of new members if they are workers with full US labor rights, so they urge legalization. Key--Employers want government to increase the supply of labor via immigration to hold down wages and costs. Worker advocates argue that low farm worker wages are bad, but most would rather have the government directly reduce farm worker poverty via higher minimum wages or mitigrate farm worker poverty with social programs than by restricting immigration. These
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different employer and worker definitions of the farm labor problem suggest different solutions—for farmers an open door for migrants, and for workers
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are150-2011-fall-review-questions-1-answers - University of...

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