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The Maid Trade: Cross‐Border Work in South Texas

Michael Pisani () and David W. Yoskowitz

Social Science Quarterly, 2002, vol. 83, issue 2, 568-579

Abstract: Objective. The primary objective of this article is to investigate the “informal” marketplace for domestic servants (maids) in a border community in South Texas (Laredo). Methods. A questionnaire was administered by a household member familiar with the present study who employed at least one maid utilizing the snowball method of sample selection. Usable data (surveys) were collected from 389 individuals—195 maids and 194 employers. Results. For maids, who are overwhelmingly female Mexican nationals, the primary determinant or “push” factor in becoming a maid was economic necessity while the primary “pull” factor was good pay. A large hourly wage differential was uncovered for day maids ($3.44) vis‐a‐vis live‐in maids ($2.61), which was primarily the result of civil status and the possession of documents permitting entry into the United States as determined by a logistic regression. Conclusion. The relative attractiveness of work as a maid in Laredo, Texas reflects the benefit of good pay balanced by the cost of poor employment choice in Mexico.

Date: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:83:y:2002:i:2:p:568-579