“Care drain”. Explaining bias in theorizing women’s migration

Romanian Journal of Society and Politics 11 (2):7-24 (2016)
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Migrant women are often stereotyped. Some scholars associate the feminization of migration with domestic work and criticize the “care drain” as a new form of imperialism that the First World imposes on the Third World. However, migrant women employed as domestic workers in Northern America and Europe represent only 2% of migrant women worldwide and cannot be seen as characterizing the “feminization of migration”. Why are migrant domestic workers overestimated? This paper explores two possible sources of bias. The first is sampling: conclusions about “care drain” are often generalized from small samples of domestic workers. The second stems from the affect heuristic: imagining children left behind by migrant mothers provokes strong feelings of injustice which trump other considerations. The paper argues that neither source of bias is unavoidable and finds evidence of gender stereotypes in the “care drain” construal

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Speranta Dumitru
Université Paris Descartes


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