Academic literature on economics of migration has found multiple evidence to support the thesis that documentation (legal) status of labor migrants affects their labor participation and employment outcomes acting as a barrier of entry, and generating, alongside with another sociodemographic variables, different types of labor absorption dynamics in their host coun-tries’ labor market. In general, documented migrants tend to do better in host economies in terms of wages, earnings and quality of jobs. Nevertheless, when labor migration supply shocks occurs because of effects of an eco-nomic, monetary, political and humanitarian crisis as that of is currently undergoing in Ven-ezuela, migratory policy can only do so much in channelling and propping up decent, quali-fied and formal jobs and it is no longer effective in deterring distortions in wages, formality and employment. Using a cross-sectional database for 2018 – the Administrative Registration of Venezuelan Migrants (ARVM), this paper sets out to investigate the effect of the emer-gency-response migratory policy of Colombia in the labor market participation of venezuelan migrant workers who arrived in the country mostly from 2014-2015. Using logistical and multinomial regressions and Year of Entry’s immigrant cohorts for 2015 and 2017, the study found that after controlling for sociodemographic variables, permanence intention and du-ration of the migration, holding any documentation status was found to be negatively asso-ciated with migrants being employed by 2,7 percentual points in 2018. Although when ana-lyzed individually, only the Permanence Special Permit (PSP) and Border Mobility Card (BMC) were associated with migrants having a 12,2 percentage points (pp) and 13,1pp on average higher likelihood to be employed in the Colombian labor market. Even though re-gardless of the documentation status, the probabilities of being unemployed for a venezuelan migrant were as high if he/she is documented as compared when he/she is undocumented. These results indicate that the response policy has been partially ineffective in confining labor market pressures and that its scope should be directed towards creating and aligning regional active labor policies that tackle barriers that incentivize migrants to remain undocu-mented. As late as of October of 2019, the Colombia Labor Ministry had issued a new Special Temporal Permit of Work (STPW) to help smooth workers in their quest in the labor market as well as raising formality levels, and in turn social insurance contributions and taxes. Alt-hough, building on the findings of this document, it is thought it will only cause palliatively effects on easing labor opportunities, at the expense of generating segmentation for other group of migrant workers.

, , , , , ,
Bedi, Arjun S.
Economics of Development (ECD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Silva Gutiérrez, Sergio David. (2019, December 20). The dynamics of labor participation of Venezuelan migrant workers in Colombia’s labor market A study of the role of Migratory Policy of Colombia as an emergency response to the humanitarian, economic and political crisis in Venezuela. Economics of Development (ECD). Retrieved from