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Regional Conference on Migration

 

 

33

GRAPH 2 

LABOR INSERTION OF NATIONALS AND MIGRANTS 

45,4

65,8

51,7

73,8

38,6

59,7

51,8

69,1

0

10

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

Informal Sector

Wage-earning

Wage-earning with a

Contract

Wage-earning with

an Indefinite Contract

Percentages

Nationals

Migrants

 

Source: Tokman, V. (2008), “Movilidad internacional de personas y protección social”, in Serie Macroeconomía del 

Desarrollo, 67 (LC/L.2913-P), Santiago de Chile, CEPAL. 

 

Regarding the employment sectors and occupations of immigrants, the author mentions that 

today “approximately 80% of the total number of immigrants are employed in agriculture, 

construction, commerce, services, and housework. In addition, a significant segmentation by gender 

exists. Men show a higher diversification of employment types by sector than women. However, a 

relatively high number of male immigrants (50 to 60%) are employed in agriculture, construction, and 

industry. A higher concentration of female immigrants is found in commerce, services, and 

housework. An average of 75 to 80% of immigrant women are employed in these sectors. Particularly, 

a high percentage of women are employed in housework. (…) Immigrants work in different markets 

than nationals, even when they are engaged in the same activity” (Tokman, 2008). 

Argentina and Costa Rica are two relevant cases within Latin America. Since they are 

basically receiving countries for migrant population they deserve special attention. In Argentina

activity rates for migrant groups have always been higher than for nationals. In 2001, the primary 

occupations for male immigrants were in the construction sector, in the case of Bolivians, Chileans, 

and Paraguayans; commerce, hotel services, and restaurant services for Uruguayans and Peruvians; 

and agriculture for Brazilians and Bolivians. The trend is that men work in three or four sectors 

without many differences by country of origin. For women, on the contrary, a greater fragmentation 

by group of origin has been observed. Peruvian and Paraguayan women are mainly employed in 

housework; Bolivians work as household workers and in commerce; and Brazilian, Chilean, and 

Uruguayan women are employed throughout three or more sectors (Pacecca and Courtis, 2008). 

In Costa Rica, the sectors of agriculture, commerce, and services accounted for close to 60% 

of the labor market for immigrants in 2002. Especially agriculture employs high numbers of 

Panamanian and Nicaraguan immigrants (89% of the migrants working in this sector come from 

Nicaragua, according to home surveys conducted by Tokman). This shows the significant labor 

segmentation that is affecting border immigrants in this country. While an increase in Colombian 

immigrants and stability in the flow of Nicaraguan and Panamanian immigrants to Costa Rica has 

been recorded since 2000, the latter are still subject to higher levels of exclusion and vulnerability. In 

the case of Nicaraguan men, 46.6% of them are employed as unskilled workers in the agricultural 

sector. In addition, more than 60% of the female Nicaraguan migrants in Costa Rica work as unskilled 



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