Volume 44, Number 175,
October-December 2013
The Emerging Phenomenon
of Unemployed Agricultural Day Laborers
Antonieta Barrón

The increase in internal migration to labor-intensive agricultural markets brought about an excess in supply as compared to demand for the workforce. The pressure of supply on relatively stable demand in labor-intensive markets altered the configuration of the supply by age, and led to an increase in unemployment.

The day laborer population below 15 years of age fell. At the end of the 1990s, child day laborers represented 10% of men and 14% of women, but this proportion fell to 0.8% and 1%, respectively, by 2009. The share of day laborers aged 15 to 39 years fell from 71.5% to 60.1% and from 69.7% to 66.8% among women. The age group of 40 to 59 years was favored by the shift for both genders, going from 13.9% to 30.5% among male day laborers and from 12.8% to 28.5% among females.19

The facts described above have had an impact on relationships of dependency. There has been an increasing rate of dependency among day laborer families, going from 1.45 to 4.5 people that do not work for every person that does over ten years.

By 2010, the net dependency rate20 of the nation was 2.63 people that do not work for every person that does, a proportion significantly lower than that of the average for day laborer families. This increase in the dependency rate is a sign of a survival mechanism among day laborer families, which surely conceals deteriorating living conditions, as a single working person must maintain more family members.

The proportion of the young working population has fallen for a variety of reasons. They are unlikely to accept lower salaries, and those awarded work are usually the people who accept the labor day and wage offered without trying to negotiate.

Unfortunately, Day Laborer Program surveys do not record those that do not work. However, by reviewing the days worked, it becomes clear that the proportion of those that worked a maximum of two days fell, while those working three or four days increased. There was also a significant drop in those working seven days.

19 Taken from the Service Program for Agricultural Day Laborer surveys from 1999 to 2009.

20 The calculation was made by dividing the total population by the working population. Strictly speaking, it should be divided by the salaried working population. Some calculate the dependency rate by adding those from 0 to 14 years of age to those over 65 years of age and dividing by the eap, but this calculation is inaccurate because it does not include the population working outside of these limits and that is not dependent.

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Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Moritz Cruz. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: January 9th, 2019.
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