Latin Americans In Informal Employment See Jobs at Greater Risk Amid Immigrants’ Arrival

According to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank and the UNDP, Latin American workers in the informal sector are more concerned about competition for jobs posed by immigrants

The IDB and the UNDP state that, by 2018, a significant percentage of Latin Americans, which varies between 39% in Mexico and 79% in Colombia and Pere, consider that immigration contributes to unemployment.
May 29, 2023 | 11:00 AM

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Bloomberg Línea — Migratory movements in Latin America and the Caribbean are now a constant, especially since a mass exodus of the Venezuelan population began in recent years, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

Research by these two organizations indicates that Latin America and the Caribbean went from hosting seven million migrants in 1990 to having an immigrant population of almost 15 million in 2020.

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“The mass migratory crisis in Venezuela, which constitutes the most significant exodus of the last 50 years in the Western Hemisphere, has originated one of the most challenging diasporas in the world, given its intensity in a short period of time. Around 6.8 million Venezuelans have emigrated,” according to the book ‘A Better World for the Migrant Population in Latin America and the Caribbean’.

The labor market, a point of contention

Although the local populations that receive migrants are in favor of their entry into health, education and other systems, the perception of a deterioration in their economic, labor and employment conditions and an increase in the tax burden remains.


The research points out that “the arrival of a migrant population, especially if it is a high and concentrated migratory flow in a short period, may create among the local population the feeling of increased labor competition and, therefore, an increased sense of labor uncertainty. The potential negative impact, however, is not homogeneous”.

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However, this dissatisfaction at migrant arrivals occurs more in the population that does not have a qualified profile and that works especially in informal employment. Meanwhile, skilled workers and people with high incomes, on the other hand, do not usually perceive that the migrant population generates greater competition in the labor market, “either because the presence of migrants does not affect them, or because they actually benefit from their arrival”.

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What does the ‘competition phenomenon’ look like, country by country?

The IDB and UNDP found that, by 2018, a significant percentage of the population of Latin American and Caribbean countries, ranging from 39% in Mexico to 79% in Colombia and Peru, believed that migration contributed to higher unemployment.


“Unlike in Europe and the United States, concerns about increased competition in the labor market play a preponderant role in local people’s attitudes toward immigration,” it adds.

The figures also show that in Latin America there are higher percentages of people who are concerned about the effect of immigration on the labor market, even more than in the United States (33%).

Furthermore, in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, this percentage is higher than in Europe (50%).

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At the same time, by 2020, the year in which the Covid-19 pandemic began and which motivated a greater mobilization of migrants in the region, the perception of greater competition with the migrant population for jobs seems to have deepened.


“In Chile and Ecuador, close to 70% expressed agreement or strong agreement with the statement that migrants compete for jobs,” the text says.

To avoid such perceptions, especially in the labor market, the IDB and UNDP say that to ensure that policy decisions maximize the economic benefits of migration in receiving countries while promoting the welfare of the immigrant population and the local population, “the design of interventions should incorporate an analysis of the potential channels of influence on public perceptions. This makes it possible to identify mechanisms that moderate anti-migration attitudes and help reduce hostility toward migrants”.

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