H-2A Guest-workers Program: Adoption and Usage by Southeastern Growers

With declining rates of migration from Mexico and a dwindling supply of willing domestic workers, specialty crop producers in the southeastern United States increasingly turn to the H-2A, temporary agricultural workers program, to meet their labor demands. Despite the program’s growing popularity, there do not exist any quantitative studies examining the factors that contribute to widely different participation rates by geography. This research examines Southeast growers’ participation rates in the H-2A program with respect to relevant social and economic factors at the county, state, and national level. Our primary research goal is to model the firm level decision to use the H-2A visa program, and determine the presence and magnitude of contagion effects in the decision process. We use a spatial-autoregressive method to model growers’ usage rates, and detect spatial-correlation between individuals and neighbors’ usage levels. Furthermore, we model producers’ adoption decision with a hazard model, wherein we regress growers’ decision to participate on neighbors’ adoption rate in preceding years, along with other relevant factors. Our main findings corroborate the influence of contagion effects on grower’s decision to use the H-2A program. More specifically we find that a growers’ odds of adopting the program increase significantly given higher participation rates among his or her neighbors. Our findings are pertinent to policy makers who seek to expand usage of the H-2A and other guest-worker programs, and our methods can be adapted to use in other policy and program related contexts.

Issue Date:
Jan 16 2018
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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 Record created 2018-01-16, last modified 2020-10-28

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