Immigration, employment relations, and health: Developing a research agenda

Joan Benach, Carles Muntaner, Haejoo Chung, Fernando G. Benavides

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Citations (Scopus)


Background: International migration has emerged as a global issue that has transformed the lives of hundreds of millions of persons. Migrant workers contribute to the economic growth of high-income countries often serving as the labour force performing dangerous, dirty and degrading work that nationals are reluctant to perform. Methods: Critical examination of the scientific and "grey" literatures on immigration, employment relations and health. Results: Both lay and scientific literatures indicate that public health researchers should be concerned about the health consequences of migration processes. Migrant workers are more represented in dangerous industries and in hazardous jobs, occupations and tasks. They are often hired as labourers in precarious jobs with poverty wages and experience more serious abuse and exploitation at the workplace. Also, analyses document migrant workers' problems of social exclusion, lack of health and safety training, fear of reprisals for demanding better working conditions, linguistic and cultural barriers that minimize the effectiveness of training, incomplete OHS surveillance of foreign workers and difficulty accessing care and compensation when injured. Therefore migrant status can be an important source of occupational health inequalities. Conclusions: Available evidence shows that the employment conditions and associated work organization of most migrant workers are dangerous to their health. The overall impact of immigration on population health, however, still is poorly understood and many mechanisms, pathways and overall health impact are poorly documented. Current limitations highlight the need to engage in explicit analytical, intervention and policy research Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:338-343, 2010.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-343
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Industrial Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Apr


  • Employment relations
  • Health inequalities
  • Immigration
  • Public health research
  • Working conditions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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