Evelyn Ersanilli (sociology) is awarded ERC Starting Grant

Evelyn Ersanilli, assistant professor in sociology, has been awarded a Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).

09/26/2017 | 4:08 PM

The RIGHTS project examines what origin countries do to improve the rights of their low skilled workers abroad.

Low-skilled migrants are often in a precarious position.  They do dirty, dangerous and demeaning work and get paid little or sometimes nothing at all.  It may seem counterintuitive to study the role of origin countries as they seem to have a weak bargaining position. The perception is that the worldwide ‘supply’ of low-skilled migrants exceeds ‘demand’. Many countries are trying to keep low-skilled migrants out. Origin countries furthermore rely on migrant remittances for a substantial share of their GDP and foreign exchange.  Pushing for more rights for their migrants could endanger this cash flow.
There is however evidence that origin countries do push for more rights for their migrants and are at times successful at doing so. The Philippines has for example negotiated higher wages for its domestic workers in Malaysia and Dubai.

During the five year RIGHTS project Ersanilli and her team will conduct research in six origin countries of low-skilled migrants (Philippines, Vietnam, India, Ecuador, Senegal, and Morocco) and three destination countries (Italy, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia). They seek to understand why origin countries decide to push for rights and why destination countries comply with these demands.  Among others, they will look at the role of other aspects of the bilateral relationships such as support in international bodies and regional cooperation. By examining a diverse set of countries and looking at migration as part of international relations the project can yield new insights into migration governance and ways to improve the rights of low-skilled migrants.

For more information visit the European Research Council.