Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction
Edited by Jacqueline Scott, Shirley Dex and Anke C. Plagnol
Chapter 5: Global Flows and Local Labour Markets: Precarious Employment and Migrant Workers in the UK
Linda McDowell, Adina Batnitzky and Sarah Dyer INTRODUCTION: MIGRATION AND SERVICE SECTOR EMPLOYMENT In this chapter we explore the world of waged work for both men and women migrants who have come to the UK in search of a better life. Migration for employment was once conceived as a predominantly male affair, and women, if included in analyses at all, were theorised as dependants. However, in recent decades increasing numbers of women worldwide are moving independently, as well as within family groups, to search for waged work. The United Nations Population Fund estimated that in 2005 women comprised half of the world’s 191 million transnational migrants, compared with 45 per cent in 1960. This number may look large but it is important to note that migrants constitute less than 3 per cent of the global population. In Britain in 2008, 250 000 people entered the country as migrants and 87 000 people left, a net inflow of 163 000, not all of whom were economic migrants. Asylum seekers and refugees are also an important part of the new population, but the majority of migrants into the UK are planning to become economically active. This is substantiated by the employment participation rates of the non-British born population, which are substantially higher (9 per cent higher in 2008) than for British-born people. The highest rates of all – at 80 per cent of the working age group – are found among the migrants from the eight East European countries1 (termed the A8 migrants) that...