In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Migrant Worker Health

Public Health Migrant Worker Health
Thomas A. Arcury, Taylor J. Arnold
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756797-0209


More than 150 million international migrant workers and an unknown number of internal migrant workers toil across the globe. More than workplace exposures affect migrant worker health; their health is also affected by exposures in the sociocultural milieu from which they came and in which they currently live. Although some of these migrant workers include professionals in high-status occupations such as doctors, nurses, engineers, and computer scientists, most are low skill workers employed in the most dangerous jobs in the most hazardous industries. The health of these migrant workers has been a long-term concern in public health, and this concern has increased with the rise of greater globalization, the recent growth of displaced and refugee populations that will need to enter the workforce in their new host countries, and the anticipated effects of climate change. The domain of migrant worker health is expansive, and is necessarily limited in this bibliography. This bibliography focuses on workers and not the family members who may accompany them, although other family members also may be workers. It focuses on low-skill migrant workers, rather than on professionals who migrate for work. Low-skill migrant workers are the individuals for whom health and public health are concerns. Additionally, research on the health of migrant professional workers is scant. At the same time, this bibliography attempts to place migrant worker health in a holistic context; because migrant worker health is affected by more than workplace exposures, the bibliography addresses exposures in their current sociocultural milieu. This bibliography has three major sections. The first section summarizes general resources that provide information on migrant workers, including International Agencies, Nongovernmental Organizations, Data Sources, Reference Works, and Journals. The second section addresses the characteristics of migrant workers that affect their health, including their Personal Characteristics, the Circumstances of Migration, Forced Migration, Industries which employ migrant workers, and 3-D Jobs: Dangerous, Dirty, and Demanding. The final section considers the health status of migrant workers, with discussions of Conceptual Frameworks for understanding migrant worker health, Work Organization Exposures, Environmental Exposures, Sociocultural Exposures, Health Conditions, Approaches to Improve Migrant Worker Health, and Policy/Regulations.

Health Relevant Migrant Worker Characteristics

The large number of migrant workers employed around the globe vary in important characteristics that affect their health. These include their personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age); the circumstances of their migration (e.g., internal versus international, documented versus undocumented, guest workers, voluntary versus forced migration); the industries in which they are employed (e.g., agriculture, construction, mining); and their employment in 3-D jobs.

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