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Estimating labour demand in the Mexican agricultural sector

How to develop a forward-looking empirical model in a collaborative way?

The project

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is a United Nations agency and the leading intergovernmental organisation in the field of migration. IOM's work consists of promoting international migration law, guiding the policy debate towards migration solutions, protecting migrants' rights through humanitarian assistance, migrant health and the gender dimension in migration.

Based on the above framework of intervention, the IOM seeks to determine the demand for foreign labour in the agricultural sector in Mexico in order to identify and assess areas of opportunity that enable a formal programme for migrants in this sector. The group appointed for this mission comprises the Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), the affiliated National Laboratory of Public Policy (LNPP) to the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), and CORESO.

Our contribution

The CIESAS, LNPP and CORESO research team develops an empirical model jointly with experts and key actors in agriculture and migration in Mexico. The model's objective is to estimate the overall demand for formal labour in Mexico's agricultural sector under different scenarios based on the evolution of the economy over the next five years. The potential demand for migrant labour is derived from this demand for formal labour.

In order to take into account the particularities of the agricultural sector in Mexico, the organisation of collective intelligence sessions with representatives from the public sector, the private sector, NGOs and academia allows for better identification of the factors to be considered in the estimation. The outcomes of these sessions enable a better choice of the empirical model specification, as well as the development of a system dynamics model to simulate the effects of the proposed policies. Such proposals are more easily fed and evaluated collectively by the group of stakeholders. Thus, decision making will be based on properly delimited leverage points.

The result

The analysis conducted by this study reveals how the expansion of Mexican agricultural production has led to rapid, significant and beneficial changes both for employment in the sector and for Mexico as the largest exporter of fruits and vegetables to the United States. Furthermore, the five-year forecast shows an increasing trend in the demand for formal and temporary labour in the Mexican agricultural sector as one of the positive aspects and a challenge in itself. The overall assessment provides key elements that have allowed stakeholders to evaluate the conditions under which the design of a programme for migrant workers can be considered.

Given that Mexico is a country of origin, transit, destination and return of the migrant population, addressing migrant labour is of utmost importance for the Mexican economy. This study provides IOM in Mexico with elements that will help it coordinate its efforts with policymakers focused on agriculture and migration to ensure an organized and dignified management of migration to and from Mexican territory.

Link to access the study (only in Spanish): Estudio prospectivo sobre migración y mercado del trabajo en el sector agrícola en México

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