Testing for Repugnance in Economic Transactions: Evidence from Guest Work in the Gulf

Start Page



Despite the large benefits to guest workers from poor countries in rich countries, agencies charged with global poverty reduction do little to facilitate guest work. This may be because guest work is viewed as a repugnant transaction—one whose harmful side effects might cause third parties to discourage it. This paper sets out six criteria for a transaction to be repugnant in consequentialist terms and uses the criteria to formulate several uncommon empirical tests for the repugnance of guest work by Indian construction workers in the United Arab Emirates. It separates the effects of guest work from its correlates using a natural experiment that quasi-exogenously allocates guest work among a group of several thousand job applicants. The effects offer little evidence that guest work in this setting is typically the cause of repugnant consequences.

Full text not available in ChicagoUnbound.