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Grass, Sweat, and Sun: An Exploratory Study of the Labor Market for Gardeners in South Texas*

Michael Pisani () and David W. Yoskowitz

Social Science Quarterly, 2005, vol. 86, issue 1, 229-251

Abstract: Objective. This article takes a first exploratory step in understanding the market for home gardeners in the southwest borderlands (Laredo, Texas). Methods. A questionnaire was administered by a household member familiar with the present study who employed at least one gardener utilizing the snowball method of sample selection. Usable data (surveys) were collected from 244 individuals: 122 gardeners and 122 employers. Results. Gardeners in Laredo are almost exclusively male, Hispanic, Spanish speaking, and heads of household. Gardeners tend to be Mexican by birth and nationality, work full time as a gardener, be middle aged, and possess a middle school education. Distinctions between full‐time and part‐time gardeners (employment status) as well as formal and informal gardeners (employment process) are discussed. Cross‐tabulation analyses suggest a strong relationship between employment status and process (relationship) with health insurance coverage, enrollment in Social Security, and year‐around work. Logistic regression results also indicate previous work experience as a gardener, medical insurance, and year‐around work as a gardener are the significant variables in determining full‐time employment as a gardener. For informality, logistic regression results suggest Mexican citizenship, Mexican birthplace, and lack of Social Security are the significant explanatory variables. Conclusion. Gardening enables a mostly informal workforce from Mexico to work in south Texas in pursuit of the American dream—the ability to make a living in a way of one's own choosing.

Date: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:bla:socsci:v:86:y:2005:i:1:p:229-251