Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 List of tables
 Survey results
 Summary and conclusions

Group Title: Occasional papers ; paper no. 2
Title: Caribbean workers in the Florida sugar cane industry
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086804/00001
 Material Information
Title: Caribbean workers in the Florida sugar cane industry
Series Title: Occasional papers
Physical Description: 75 p. : map ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: McCoy, Terry L., 1940-
Wood, Charles H
Caribbean Migration Program
Publisher: Center for Latin American Studies, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville
Publication Date: 1982
Subject: Sugar workers -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Sugar trade -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Sugar workers -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Sugar trade -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America -- Florida
Bibliography: Bibliography: p. 73-75.
Statement of Responsibility: Terry L. McCoy and Charles H. Wood.
General Note: On Cover: Caribbean Migration Program.
Funding: Occasional papers (University of Florida. Center for Latin American Studies ) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00086804
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 10669093

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
    Table of Contents
        Page iii
    List of tables
        Page iv
        Page 1
        Page 2
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        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Survey results
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
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    Summary and conclusions
        Page 62
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Full Text

Paper No. 2
Caribbean Workers in the Florida
Sugar Cane Industry


The occasional papers of the Caribbean Migration Program are
published several times a year by the Center for Latin American Studies,
University of Florida, Gainesville, The Caribbean Migration Program
began in January, 1982, with support from the Tinker Foundation and the
Ford Foundation. The Program's goals are to:

train new scholars in the field of Caribbean migration
review the existing state of knowledge concerning Caribbean
migration in order to identify priorities for research and
generate and disseminate research in priority areas of
Caribbean migration
establish collaborative relationships with other scholars
and institutions in the Caribbean and in the United States
working in the area of migration
serve as an integrating mechanism and informational clearing
house for research and forums on all aspects of Caribbean
migration, particularly to Florida and the Southeast.

Caribbean Migration Program activities include a Visiting Scholars
program, predoctoral fellowships and graduate seminars on various
aspects of the Caribbean and migration. We are completing an extensive
bibliography on Caribbean migration and a roster of researchers in the
area. The Center also publishes the Amazon Research Papers prepared
under the Amazon Research and Training Program.

For further information write:

Center for Latin American Studies
319 Grinter Hall
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

December, 1982

Terry L. McCoy
Charles H. Wood

Center for Latin American Studies
University of Florida
Gainesville, Florida 32611

Paper No. 2
Caribbean Workers in the Florida
Sugar Cane Industry

Table of Contents

I. Introduction 1
A. The Florida Sugar Industry 1
1. History 1
2. Ownership and Organization 3
3. Harvesting Techniques 5
B. Offshore Labor in Florida Sugar 6
1. History 7
2. Certification Requirements 7
3. Recruiting BWI Workers 8
4. Transportation, Living Arrangements, Working
Conditions and Wages 12

II. Survey Results 15
A. Background 15
1. Migration History 15
2. Education 18
3. Housing and Home Ownership 23
B. Occupation and Agricultural Activities 26
1. Occupational Background 26
2. Agriculture and Farming 30
3. Size of Plot 31
4. Land Tenure 35
5. Use of Labor 37
6. Agricultural Production, Consumption
and Marketing 40
C. Household Composition 43
D. Overseas Earnings and Remittances 45
1. Earnings in the United States 45
2. Remittances 46
a. Savings Plan 48
b. Mailed Remittances 49
c. Purchases 51
d. Cash in Hand 54
e. Remittances: Summary Tabulation 54
E. Savings, Investments and Productivity 56
1. Capital Accumulation 56
2. Productivity 59
3. Investment Plans 61

III. Summary and Conclusions 62
A. Principal Findings 62
B. Discussion 65

Appendix A: Selected Indicators of Five Sending Countries 66

Appendix B: Sample Design 67

Notes 69


List of Tables

ible Title Page

1 Florida Sugar Industry Production 2
2 Inter-Island Migration 16
3 Intra-Island Migration 16
4 Primary Reason for Previous Move 20
5 Educational Attainment 20
6 Educational Attainment by Previous Seasons
Worked 22
7 Type of Residence 24
8 Type of Housing Arrangement 25
9 Distribution of Principal, Second and Third
Occupations 27
10 Distribution of Principal and Second Occupation 29
11 Size of Area Cultivated 32
12 Distribution by Number and Acreage of Farms in
Jamaica 34
13 Nature of Land Tenure Arrangements 34
14 Selected Indicators of Rural Labor Practices
and of the Impact of Emigration on Them 38
15 Consumption and Marketing Patterns for Selected
Crops 42
16 Household Characteristics 43
17 Workers' Gross and Net Income for the Previous
Fortnight 47
18 Average Amount and Frequency of Money Mailed
Home by Category of Recipient 50
19 Items Purchased in the United States 53
20 Amount of Money Remitted to the Islands 55
21 Multiple Classification Analysis of the Effect
of Work Experience on Land Ownership and Earnings 58
22 Investment Strategies of BWI Workers 59


Terry L. McCoy and Charles H. Wood


In this paper we report on a study of a labor program that has,
for the last 39 years, brought workers from the Commonwealth Caribbean
(known as the British West Indies prior to independence) to south
Florida to harvest sugar cane. The eight to nine thousand men in this
work force currently constitute the largest legal foreign migrant labor
program in the United States. In the face of increasing pressure for
additional labor migration from Latin America and the Caribbean to the
U.S., this labor force poses a number of theoretical and policy issues
associated with the international transfer of labor from less developed
to more developed economies. Congress is currently considering
legislation which would modify the current temporary worker (or H-2)

In the context of some of the questions raised by such proposals,
and in light of the general concern over the impact of transnational
labor migration, we present the findings of a survey of the Caribbean
cane cutters carried out during the 1980-81 harvest. The questionnaire
generated data regarding the socio-demographic characteristics of the
workers, their occupations back in the islands, the composition of their
households, the impact of seasonal migration on them and their
dependents, and the disposition of the money earned in Florida. Before
turning to an analysis of each of these variables, the introduction
reviews the history and organization of the off-shore program in the
Florida sugar industry in order to provide the context within which this
case of seasonal foreign labor operates.

A. The Florida Sugar Industry

1. History

Its 1980-81 crop of 1,121,400 tons of raw sugar made Florida the
leading domestic producer of sugar in that year (see Table 1).(3) The
record crop exceeded the earlier peak by 60,000 tons and outdistanced
the second largest producing state, Hawaii, by 100,000 tons (Florida
Sugar News,17, No. 2[April 1981]: 1.) Florida accounts for nearly
20 percent of all (cane and beet) domestic production and 10 percent of
all sugar consumed in the U.S. Ibid.,17, No. 4 [October 1981]:1).
The Florida industry also differs from the other U.S. producers on three
inter-related dimensions: its relatively recent origin; the fact that it
is based on a non-renewable resource base; and its dependence on manual
labor for harvesting.

Even in a state where it is the third leading agricultural

Table 1





Florida Sugar

for Sugar


Gross Tons


Per Acre
(Gross Tons)


Short Tons


Raw Value
Short Tons


(Short Tcns
Raw Value:

Cane League, 1982.

Raw Value
Made Per
Net Ton
of Cane

commodity in terms of sales, Florida sugar production is not highly
visible (Mulkey and Gordon, 1979). This can be attributed to its recent
origins, and to its confinement to a small, isolated area around the
southern rim of Lake Okeechobee. Cane was first planted in this area in
1886, but it was not until 1931 that production was undertaken on a
commercial basis (Thompson, 1979:8-10). In that year, the U.S. Sugar
Corporation began the cultivation and milling of raw sugar on recently
acquired property. This was made possible largely by government
drainage projects in the area around the lake. U.S. Sugar succeeded,
where others had not, because of its investments in water control
techniques and the development of improved varieties of cane..
Ubid:8-10). It was not until 1947, however, that a second mill
was opened; in fact, prior to 1960, 11 of the 13 attempts to produce
sugar on a commercial scale failed. Whereas the techniques existed to
grow sugar under local conditions, national policy (composed of a
complex and inter-locking system of quotas, price supports, and other
governmental measures) and international conditions discouraged its
production in Florida (Ibid., 1979:11).

Between 1960 and 1980 the acreage devoted to sugar production in
Florida jumped from slightly over 50,000 to more than 330,000 acres (see
Table 1). The Cuban Revolution contributed to this expansion in two
senses. First, when Cuba lost access to the U.S. market, its quota was
partly reassigned to stateside producers, thereby expanding demand for
domestic sugar. The following excerpt from the Tampa Tribune of
November 9, 1961, captures the combination of international and domestic
political forces that propelled the expansion of the industry: "High
hopes for Florida's sugar industry were voiced today by Representative
Paul G. Rogers, who blasted Cuban imports, communism, and foreign aid at
today's Fort Myers Kiwanis Club meeting."

The second way in which the Cuban Revolution boosted Florida
production was through the transfer of Cuban capital, technology, and
skilled workers to south Florida. Once again the
Tampa Tribune underlined the significance of this when it commented
(November 26, 1961): "The enterprise and capital of American
industrialists and exiled Cuban sugar leaders combine to expand
America's sugar production and make it less dependent on other sources."
Just as Cuban-Americans remain a force in Florida sugar, both as owners
and technicians, there is little doubt that the continued exclusion of
Cuba from the U.S. market is in the interest of domestic cane and beet

2. Ownership and Oranization

In keeping with the structure of sugar production elsewhere in the
world, ownership in the Florida industry is highly concentrated. The
entire industry consists of 135 farms ranging in size from 10 to 60,000
acres with the average farm being 2,000 acres (Zepp, 1979:8). It is
vertically integrated through seven large factories, or mills, which
process the cane into raw sugar. Although there is one refinery in the
area and another in the planning stage, most of the subsequent refining
to pure sugar is done elsewhere. Five of the mills were built during

the 1960-64 expansion phase. The largest producer and processor is U.S.
Sugar, which owns two of the mills. Gulf and Western, a multinational
corporation with extensive sugar operations throughout the Caribbean, is
another major producer with its own mill. One of the remaining mills is
owned and operated by Cuban-American capital, while a growers'
cooperative also operates another.

The economic impact of the industry on the state and on the
producing area is considerable. In an industry-commissioned study, two
economists calculated that sugar accounted (directly and indirectly
through its multiplier effect) for 10 percent of all sales and 14
percent of all jobs in the local four county economy (Mulkey and Gordon,
1979:26). This same study also concluded that the money spent by the
industry's migrant labor force generated between $3.2 and $5.4 million in
income for local residents. At the state level, sugar accounted for 11
to 12 percent of Florida's total agricultural sales for 1974 and 1975
(News Release of the Florida Sugar Cane League, July 5, 1979).

Perhaps even more than other agricultural commodities in the U.S.,
the profitability of sugar production is closely linked to the policies
of the federal government. As both a cause and an effect of this
condition, domestic sugar producers are organized into strong lobbies
that operate at the state and national level. Florida growers are
represented by the Florida Sugar Cane League. Since the repeal of the
Sugar Act (which maintained a floor on the price paid domestic producers
by controlling foreign access to the U.S. market through a system of
country quotas), the principal objective of the sugar lobby has been to
re-establish direct federal price guarantees. In the eyes of the
industry the need for such legislation is justified by the volatile
nature of world sugar prices since 1974. From a high of $.57 per pound
in 1973-74 they plunged to $.06 in 1978 (Thompson, 1979:3).

Along with associations in the other producer states, the Florida
Sugar Cane League lobbied strenuously for legislation to stabilize the
market. In the words of the League's Vice President, "We are willing to
take the top out of the Market....At the same time, we want the bottom
taken out (Dalton Yancey, n.d.,:4)." In 1977 President Carter imposed
import fees on foreign sugar and established a subsidized commodity loan
program that, in effect, guaranteed a minimum price for domestic sugar
(Johnson, 1979:549). Despite these steps, the industry fell into a
second slump when the world price dropped to $.08 in 1979, and the
government loan program proved insufficient to offset the comparatively
high costs of U.S. producers. In Florida, for example, Johnson reports
that costs were on the order of $.13-.14 per pound in 1979 (1979:54) In
addition to the unstable price for their product, sugar producers face
increasing competition from alternative, cheaper sweeteners. According
to Thompson, starch sweeteners (such as corn) account for about
one-fourth of per capital sweetener consumption in the U.S. (1979:83).

The domestic sugar industry has received additional assistance
from the Reagan administration. The Omnibus Farm Act of 1981 included a
sugar price support provision that guarantees domestic producers around
$.20 per pound through 1985. The President signed this legislation in
tandem with two executive orders imposing import fees and increasing
duties on foreign sugar The sugar Bulletin, 60, No. 8 [January

15, 1982):6]. In the spring of 1982, the President went even further
by re-establishing import quotas (New York times, May 5, 1982).
All of the measures attest to the considerable economic significance and
political influence of the sugar industry, the net result of which is to
maintain prices to domestic producers at about $.20 per pound, while the
world price slipped to under $.10 in mid-1982 (Miami Herald,
October 11, 1982).

3. Harvesting Techniques

In the precarious and competitive production of sugar, nearly all
Florida growers are unique in their reliance on manual harvesting. All
other domestically grown sugar cane is harvested mechanically. That
Florida growers rely on a large, legal migrant labor pool in the U.S. is
a function of the peculiar nature of sugar cultivation in this state and
special immigration law provisions for importing temporary labor.

Mechanization of the Florida harvest is precluded for technical and
ecological reasons. The recumbent character of the cane makes it
difficult to pick up and the soft muck soil will not sustain heavy
equipment without destroying the ratoons which produce the following
year's crop. Reinforcing these constraints on mechanization is the fact
that the land is subject to rapid oxidation when exposed to the

Organic soil in the Everglades agricultural
area is subsiding at the rate of about one inch
per year. By the year 2000, it has been esti-
mated that about 5000 thousand acres (or 87 per-
cent of the total) of organic soil will be three
feet or less in thickness, and over 250,000 acres
will be less than one foot. The fate of agri-
culture on this soil is uncertain. Large tracts
of land that now are agriculturally productive
may be abandoned....(Snyder,et.al., 1978:ii).

Sugar cane cultivation is particularly damaging to the muck soils, since
it subjects them to conditions-- shrinkage, compacting, and oxidation--
that accelerate their deterioration. If these problems are not
resolved, sugar cultivation is likely to decline over the next 25 years.
Experiments are currently underway to alternate cane with the
cultivation of rice, a crop that retards oxidation through periodic
flooding of the fields.

Faced with technical and ecological constraints, most Florida
growers continue to find manual harvesting more profitable. The capacity
to mechanically harvest cane has been developed and it is used on one of
the large estates, having been adopted following a strike. But this
technology, because it is less efficient from an overall production
standpoint, is held in reserve in the event of disruption in the labor
supply (Arias, 1976; Reubins, 1978:29). The Florida sugar cane industry
thus depends on access to a stable, flexible supply of seasonal labor.

1. History

Sugar cane cutting is hard work and it is not
possible to find significant domestic workers
who will perform this chore. However, the
Caribbean worker is trained and accustomed
to this type of work. (Florida Sugar Cane
League, n.d.)

Florida sugar began using British West Indian (BWI) workers in
1943. Prior to that time, local black Americans harvested the crop.
When this labor force moved north to the war-related industries, all of
Florida agriculture, most importantly citrus and vegetables, sought
foreign replacements.

The original arrangement admitting BWI and Bahamian workers to the
U.S. was similar to the one regulating Mexican migrant workers. Based
on a government-to-government agreement, and authorized under the
temporary work visa provision of the 1917 Immigration Act, it
stipulated: 1) that workers were exempt from the U.S. Selective Service
and the literacy and head tax requirements; 2) that employers were to
provide round-trip transportation; 3) that wages and working conditions
had to be comparable to those of domestic workers; and 4) that island
governments could limit the number of workers allowed to migrate (U.S.
Congress, Senate, 1978:4). Although dwarfed by the massive flow of
Mexicans, by 1945 there were 24,000 BWI and Bahamian workers employed in
U.S. agriculture and another 16,346 in industry (Ibid:8).

In the post war period the BWI offshore program continued to be
overshadowed by the Mexican bracero program. Both were authorized under
section H-2 of the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act. However,
unlike the bracero program, which was established through an official
bilateral agreement, the BWI arrangement after the war was between the
U.S. employers and an organization representing the West Indian workers
and their governments. By 1959 there were more than 500,000 Mexicans
legally working in the U.S. compared to only several thousand workers
from the Caribbean. Overall there was proportionally more alien labor
used in U.S. agriculture than during World War II (Ibid.:8-15).

The relatively low visibility of the BWI arrangement and its
separate identity proved instrumental to the program's survival. In the
early 1960's organized labor and its allies in Congress increased their
attacks on the bracero program. By contrast, this same coalition

B. Offshore Labor in Florida Sugar

publicly defended the BWI arrangement. George Meany of the AFL-CIO
declared in 1965 that, "It is well known that the BWI program improves
the lot of domestic workers in regard to housing, workmen's
compensation, and racial matters (Ibid.1978:21)."

President Johnson brought an end to the bracero program in 1964.
As the number of Mexican legal migrants decreased, those entering
Florida from the West Indies increased. This accelerated influx
coincided with the emergence of large scale sugar cane cultivation
around Lake Okeechobee. Of all the original employers of H-2 labor -
and it was utilized throughout Florida agriculture as late as the early
1970s --today only the Florida sugar industry and East Coast apple
growers are able to regularly meet the qualifications to hire offshore
seasonal labor (U.S. Department of Labor, 1982).

2. Certification Requirements

Under U.S. immigration law it is possible to import foreign
workers for seasonal labor. The H-2 category exists for that purpose.
However, in an effort to protect U.S. workers from lower paid imported
labor, Congress and the Department of Labor (DOL) have created a
certification procedure that makes it difficult for the would-be
employers to qualify for foreign workers.

The first step in gaining consent from the federal government to
import labor is to demonstrate to DOL that there are no U.S. workers
available to do the job in question. Once this condition is documented,
DOL then advises the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that a
shortage of domestic workers exists, and INS grants approval for the
importation of foreign workers for the specific jobs and employers that
have been certified (McCoy, 192:3). This system is designed to protect
the U.S. job market from what is viewed as unfair foreign competition.

Originally, certification was granted for up to three years on the
basis of demonstrated labor shortages in a given region. Currently
certification can only be given to the petitioning employers for
pre-specified tasks, and is issued for one year or less (eight months in
the case of sugar). This means that employers must be certified every
year. Furthermore, DOL grants certification only after the employers
have engaged in an exhaustive search, or "positive recruitment," for
domestic workers.

Success in recruiting domestic workers depends not only on
advertising the job vacancies but also on wages and working conditions
offered prospective employees. To prohibit West Indians (who would
readily work for wages well below those attractive to American workers)
from unfairly competing for U.S. jobs, the DOL has established what is
known as the "adverse wage rate." This is a guaranteed hourly wage which
should not only attract domestic workers but also, failing to do so, not
adversely affect the wages of U.S. workers in related activities (i.e.
agricultural workers). The adverse wage for a given season is dictated
by DOL on the basis of studies, done by the Field Reporting Service of
the Department of Agriculture, to determine the prevailing wages for

farm workers.(4) In the case of sugar it has always been above the
federal minimum wage but not high enough to attract many sufficient
domestic applicants. In 1980-81 the adverse rate of $4.09 per hour
compared with $3.10 for the federal minimum (State of Florida,
Department of Labor and Employment Security, 1980).

Beyond offering potential employees an hourly wage in excess of
prevailing agricultural rates, the sugar industry to be certified must
provide living quarters, meals, and transportation to its cane cutters
at reasonable rates. The conditions of employment are monitored by the
DOL, working with its local and state counterparts.

In spite of its positive recruitment efforts, the industry does not
secure sufficient domestic workers to harvest its annual crop.
According to data presented in support of its case for DOL certification
for the 1979-80 season, over the proceeding six years the industry spent
$109,041.27 (or an average of $18,174 per year) on advertising for
domestic cane cutters. It spent an additional $43,778 ($7,297 per year)
on transporting domestic recruits to the work place. The net result of
all of this, however, was that not one domestic worker lasted out the
entire season (Morrison, 1979). The industry's long-standing contention
that there are no workers in the U.S. who will cut cane appeared
strengthened the following year. Under pressure from Florida state
officials, it sought to recruit workers from among the Cuban and Haitian
refugees then entering the state. Even this apparently job-hungry labor
pool produced only several hundred cutters for the 1980-81 season.(5)

Once the Labor Department certifies a shortage of domestic
laborers, the INS may then issue permission in the form of 1-94 forms
for the workers in a quantity approximating the number requested by the
industry. Under existing law, DOL certification is advisory and not
binding. For 1980-81 there were 8,460 entries authorized (Interview
with industry official, December 17, 1980). Although not the subject of
this report, the related questions of why U.S. workers do not cut sugar
cane, even in periods of high unemployment, and why the industry clearly
prefers Caribbean labor are much debated. For our purposes here,
however, it is sufficient to note that, with the granting of labor
certification industry, representatives may then bring in cutters from
abroad. In actual practice, the process of recruiting these workers
begins well in advance of final certification.

3. Recruiting Caribbean Workers

One of the strange idiosyncracies in this regard
is that the Jamaican who cuts in Florida will
not do so in Jamaica (Florida Sugar Cane
League, 1979b:4)

Because of low wages and high unemployment, the demand in the
Caribbean for participation in the sugar work force far exceeds the need
for workers in Florida. For its part, the sugar industry seeks to
restrict participation to those workers who have demonstrated their

reliability and productivity during previous seasons. The island
governments, on the other hand, feel the need to keep the opportunity
open to as many of their citizens as possible. The existence of these
competing interests has led to the institutionalization of a recruiting
procedure which balances the growers' preference for a stable,
experienced work force with the desires of the Caribbean governments to
spread the participation in the migratory stream around among their

At present the program is limited to natives of the five
Commonwealth Caribbean islands: Jamaica, Barbados, St. Vincent, St.
Lucia, and Dominica (see map and Appendix A). The roots of the
arrangement date from its origin in 1943. The mechanism for
perpetuating it is an annual contract between representatives of the
sugar industry and those of the West Indian governments and workers.
For the industry the offshore labor program is managed by the Florida
Fruit and Vegetable Association (FFVA) and U.S. Sugar Corporation, with
FFVA representing most employers.

Representation of West Indian interests is more complicated. The
interests themselves are diverse and occasionally divergent. The
principal organization is the British West Indies Central Labour
Organization (BWICLO). Its governing council the Regional Labour Board,
is composed of the following: the Permanent Jamaican Secretary for the
Ministry of Labour, who serves as Chairman; two other Jamaican
government officials; the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Labour
from Barbados; the Labour Commissioner of St. Lucia, representing the
three remaining small islands; and a representative from one of the two
Jamaican labor unions (depending on which party is in power). The
BWICLO, with a permanent office in Washington, D.C., maintains 11
liaison officers in the sugar area. Although the Regional Labour Board
and industry representatives meet annually to re-negotiate the contract,
it remains essentially the same from year to year.

Several aspects of the arrangement are noteworthy. First, the
Department of Labor, because of its mandate to protect domestic workers,
also sets wages and working conditions for H-2 participants. Second,
Jamaica, which sends 80 percent of the labor force, dominates the BWICLO
and Regional Labour Board. This situation is a source of criticism
among the workers and officials of the four other islands.(6) Third,
from the worker's perspective, the major criticism of the contract is
that, after specifying hourly wages, the living and transportation
arrangements, and working conditions, the contract is vague as to the
piecework formula and other standards of productivity. According to
some observers, this works to the disadvantage of the cane cutters. The
summary deportation of workers and subsequent blacklisting of
individuals are often cited by critics, (Petrow, 1980 and NACLA, 1977).
Worker complaints and grievances are channeled through the 11 BWICLO
liaison officers.

The agreement between the employers and the BWICLO specifies that
the industry recruiters may request no more than 60 percent of the work
force from those who participated in previous seasons. The remaining 40
percent is drawn from the pool of "non-preferred" applicants. The


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proportional split between preferred and pool workers is an issue
regularly negotiated. Employers favor enlarging the former; island
governments press for increasing the number of pool workers.(7) The
percentage of preferred individuals has increased from 20 percent to the
current level (60 percent). They must select the remaining 40 percent
from a pool of non-preferred applicants.

The procedures for recruiting pool workers vary from island to
island. It is most elaborate in Jamaica where workers are recruited
through a complex system involving Members of Parliament (MPs), local
committees, and the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry assigns each
parish a quota of candidates for the non-preferred pool, and it requests
each MP to form a committee to identify candidates from his
constituency. On the basis of the committees' unanimous
recommendations, the Ministry sends those candidates a card which makes
them eligible to be interviewed by industry recruiters. Recently, to
discourage candidates from transferring or selling their cards, the
candidates are required to be fingerprinted (Interview with FFVA
official, July 20, 1982). The various steps in the selection process
have led to charges of undue political and economic pressures (Petrow,
1980; Palm Beach .ost, November 25, 1974). Once the pool of
eligible non-preferred workers is constituted, skilled industry
representatives go to Jamaica to select from it those whom they wish to
hire. This requires reducing the initial pool from approximately 10,000
to 7,000. It is done through personal interviews with each card holder
at Ministry of Labour pre-selection stations throughout the island. In
these interviews, the U.S. recruiters screen applicants on the basis of
their physical appearance, occupation, work history, and attitude.(8)
Preference is given to farm workers, especially with cane cutting

Following pre-selection by the U.S. recruiters, the would-be cane
cutters take medical exams in Kingston. They are also now screened by
the U.S. Consulate (Interview with consular official, September 10,
1982). Those who pass await final call from the growers. The length and
uncertainty of recruitment means that the individual worker may not know
whether he is going to Florida until several days before departing.
Some workers are not even called until mid-way through the harvest.
Travel arrangements, documents, and charter flights are handled for the
growers by a private firm.(10)

The recruitment of workers from the other four islands is less
complicated. It is also less formally integrated into the system of
political patronage compared to Jamaica. As in Jamaica, once a pool of
candidates is established, it is the sugar industry agents who make the
final selections among the non-preferred workers. The specific way in
which this is accomplished varies somewhat from island to island.

In Barbados, which supplies the second highest number of
participants -- approximately 600 in 1980-81 -- demand to participate in
the program is perhaps less intense than in other countries. This is
presumed to be related to the island's standard of living and wage
structure, both relatively high for the region (Brana-Shute and
Brana-Shute, 1981 and Appendix A). As the country develops, government
officials (Interview with Permanent Secretary for Labour, July 21, 1982)

anticipate declining participation. For now stateside employment fills
an important need. It should also be noted that the Barbadian sugar
industry, an important component of the economy, cannot find enough
local workers to harvest its crop and must annually import them from the
neighboring island of St. Vincent. (Interview with union official, July
24, 1981). Because of overlapping seasons, local sugar workers must
choose where they want to work. Barbadians interested in cutting cane
in Florida simply register at the Employment Exchange of the Ministry of
Labour, which carries out a preliminary screening prior to the arrival
of industry recruiters.(11)

St. Lucia and St. Vincent supplied 450 workers each for the 1981-82
season. Dominica, which in that year participated on an experimental
basis, contributed 60. Under conditions of high unemployment, and in
view of the low standard of living of these three less developed islands
of the Eastern Caribbean, it is not surprising that the demand to go to
Florida is great. A person who does so stands to earn several times the
annual average local per capital income. This configuration of chronic
conditions, combined with the fact that the islands had recently
suffered the effects of a devastating hurricane, produce situations such
as that in St. Lucia where there were 300 candidates for the 20 slots
allocated to the district (Interview with local official, July 30,
1981). Not only are men from these islands eager to participate, but
their governments are in need of foreign exchange, which it

Since 1974 the procedure for building the pool in St. Vincent is
for ministers of government. Members of Parliament from the ruling
party submit nominees to the Department of Labour. In Saint Lucia the
selection process is entirely in the hands of civil servants, although
they will consider recommendations from politicians.(13) Regardless of
the nature of the selection process, it is clear that conditions
internal to the less developed small islands lead to pressures on the
governments to sustain the program.

4. Transportation, Living Arrangements, Working Conditions -and ~ ages

Recruitment into the pool of available workers and selection by
sugar industry representatives, both completed by early summer, do not
guarantee work in the sugar fields. That depends upon a final call from
the employers for specific numbers of workers. This request may not
come until mid-fall. As a result some men do not go until the harvest
is well underway. Although the industry estimates the number of men it
will need each year, the actual size of the labor force depends on
factors not determined until the harvest is about to begin. When a
worker is summoned, he goes to a central location for transportation to

All workers are taken by charter aircraft to West Palm Beach and
then by bus to the sugar area. The contract guarantees free round trip
air fare from Kingston for "all workers who complete 50 percent of the

contract period (State of Florida, Department of Labor and Employment
Security, June 4, 1980)." Non-Jamaican workers must make up the
difference equivalent to the fare from their island to Kingston.(14) In
all cases, the cost of the trip from Jamaica to Palm Beach is deducted
from the workers' paychecks and then reimbursed at the end of the
season. This practice is presumably designed to discourage the worker
from using the program for free passage to the U.S.

Each worker is assigned to a specified grower prior to departure.
Growers are contractually obligated to provide workers with free
housing. Three meals a day are also provided at a cost not to exceed an
agreed upon rate ($5.00 plus $.20 tax in 1980-81, State of Florida,
Department of Labor and Employment Security, June 4, 1980). Housing
consists of barracks located in camps on or near the sugar estates.
Meals with West Indian menus prepared by native cooks are served in
large mess halls, except for the mid-day meal which is served in the
fields during the 15 minute lunch break. The camps include offices, a
first aid clinic, commissaries and limited recreational facilities where
the occupants can watch TV or play dominoes. A larger infirmary is
adjacent to the BWICLO liaison officers headquarters in South Bay.
Serious medical cases are referred to area hospitals. A special program
offers workers night classes where it is possible to earn a high school
diploma. Our study indicates that about 1 in 10 workers take advantage
of this opportunity.

Cutting sugar cane is physically demanding, dirty work. The
contract offers the H-2 workers eight hours of work per day, six days
per week and guarantees them work for the hourly equivalent of
three-fourths of the work days of the contract period. The actual
number of hours worked per day was not information generated by our
survey. For their efforts they are assured an hourly minimum wage. To
maximize their earning potential most workers choose to work on Sundays.
An individual's actual pay, however, is the function of a complex
piecework formula.

Every worker's season begins with an eight-day training period
during which he is paid the minimum wage. In the words of the contract:

Thereafter, workers will be paid on
a task basis. The task will be based on
the work which can be performed by the
average worker. Any time during the
training period a worker demonstrates
that the worker is proficient by cutting
a task in less than 8 hours, the worker
will be assigned to the task rate if
agreeable with the worker. In the event
that a worker finishes the assigned task
in less than 8 hours, the worker will be
given the privilege of accepting another
task. (State of Florida, Department of
Labor and Employment Security, 1980).

With the training period finished and the cutting norm established,
workers are encouraged to exceed it by a bonus system that allows them
to earn additional wages by cutting more than their assigned task in an
eight-hour day. For example, although the minimum wage rate was $4.09
per hour in 1980-81, the contract indicated that it should be possible
for the "normal worker" to increase his average earnings to $4.29 per
hour for the entire season. All workers are expected to cut an average
of eight tons of cane a day. Stories of individuals who far exceed the
minimum wage are common. The top worker in one camp reportedly earned a
bi-weekly rate of $1000 (Interview with Office Manager, March 19, 1981).
In addition to the promise of additional earnings, the task formula
offers the inducement of being invited back as a preferred worker. On
the other hand, it is criticized for giving excessive latitude to those
who measure and assign tasks, and to the "ticket writers" who record the
day's cut.(15) Workers who fall below the norm find themselves being
sent back home and blacklisted from future seasons for breach of

Life in the camps and field work is supervised through a system
which relies heavily on West Indians as immediate supervisors. At the
top of this hierarchy is the camp supervisor. Under his command and in
charge of the field work are the field bosses, the lead men and the
ticket writers. Most of these are West Indians. The field boss is
responsible for the work in his field while it is the lead man who
assigns each cutter his daily task or "row". At the end of the work
day, the ticket writer records that day's cut. From the standpoint of
the worker there is sometimes confusion and controversy as to. the value
assigned to the tasks. Similarly, disputes arise over the size of the
annual bonus.

The responsibility of the 11 liaison officers is to represent the
cane cutters when conflicts and grievances arise. As employees of the
BWICLO, the liaison officers are to represent all workers equally. Yet,
the predominance of Jamaicans among the liaison officers is a source of
complaint. Non-Jamaican workers claim their interests do not receive
equal treatment. In 1981-82 and 1982-83 steps were taken to incorporate
non-Jamaicans into the liaison staff.

From each paycheck certain mandatory deductions are made. As
already mentioned, the employer removes funds advanced for the trip to
Florida (at the end of the season this is returned to those who finish),
an initial cash advance for subsistence and clothing, and the cost of
meals. More importantly, 23 percent of gross earnings is deducted and
sent back to the islands. Although the final disposition of these funds
varies from island to island (for example on the small islands a portion
goes to reimburse the BWICLO and government for the air fare advance),
the largest share goes into an interest-free savings account for the
worker to claim on his return. Two percent is claimed by the BWICLO for
expenses and a special non-work related hospitalization plan for the
workers.(17) The mandatory deduction, one-quarter of gross wages,
represents a significant contribution to the islands' hard currency
accounts, since it is redeemed to the workers on their return in local
currency at the official exchange rate. Other deductions, of an
optional nature, include savings accounts in local banks and regular

voluntary remittances to relatives. Workers do not pay U.S. income tax
or social security, nor are they covered by unemployment compensation.

Payday is every two weeks. Most workers take grower-provided
transportation, obligated by the contract, to the surrounding towns.
There they remit money to the islands through postal money orders,
purchase goods to take home at the end of the season, and buy items for
personal consumption. An entire commercial district of Belle Glade,
Florida, has developed to service the BWI labor force.(18) At the end
of the season it is customary for the growers to give their workers an
across-the-board bonus. Although the method of determination and amount
vary considerably from grower to grower, in 1980-81 most workers
received a year-end bonus of six percent of their gross wages.(19) Once
the season ends, the workers are paid and returned by charter aircraft
to the West Indies. Each worker is allowed 50 pounds of accompanying
baggage. He pays for the remainder or ships it separately. The goods
purchased in the U.S. are subject to local customs duties, although in
practice they enter with little or no duty. Return to the islands in
late March or early April ends the cycle. The new one begins in May
with recruitment and selection of workers for the next harvest.


Now that we are familiar with the history and institutional
features of the H-2 program in Florida sugar, Part II presents the
findings of a survey administered to a random sample of 302 West Indian
workers who were interviewed in Florida at the end of the 1980-1981
harvest. A discussion of the sample design and the questionnaire that
was used, are presented in the Appendix B. Because relatively little is
known about this labor force, a primary objective of the survey was to
generate a socio-demographic profile of the workers who seasonally
migrate to the United States. Key background characteristics include
migration history, educational attainment, agricultural experience and
household composition. A second goal of the survey was to analyze the
way in which stateside employment may affect the sending societies.
With this in mind, the questionnaire provided information on the income
earned and on the various mechanisms by which wages are remitted to the
islands. When between-country comparisons are made the category "small
islands" refers to all workers from St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica.

A. Background Characteristics of fbh Labor Force

1. Migration History

Historically migration has played a central role in the demography
of the Caribbean. Substantial proportions of the population have moved,
either permanently or temporarily, to Europe, to North America, and to

other countries in the surrounding area. Within the area itself there
has always also been a flow of people among the islands that make up the
West Indies (Marshall, 1982). Inter-island migration is especially
salient in the chain of small states that comprise the Eastern

Although we do not have complete migration histories for each
individual in the sample, several items in the questionnaire (country
and parish of birth; previous and current place of residence) provide a
rough indication of the previous migratory patterns that characterize
the H-2 labor force employed by the Florida sugar industry. The
specific question addressed here is whether individuals who harvest cane
in Florida are drawn from a population which is stable or geographically
mobile at the place of origin.

In Table 2 the respondents are classified by country of birth and
by country of residence at the time of the interview. As indicated by
the large proportion of the sample that falls along the diagonal, the
vast majority of the population of offshore workers live in the same
country in which they were born.

An indication of the magnitude of intra-island migration (Table 3)
is provided by the percent of workers who live in the same parish where
they were born. In Jamaica, about two-thirds of the population lives in
the place of birth. In other words, only about one worker in every
three migrated from one parish to another. The data from Barbados and
the small islands show a similar distribution.

A separate aspect of the migratory profile is the extent of rural to
urban migration. A rough indication of this flow can be derived by
comparing the proportion of the population that is of rural origin, with
the proportion that declares a rural place of residence at the time of
the interview. In Jamaica, 90.3 percent of the workers responded that
they were born in the countryside, while 82.4 percent currently reside
there. This combination implies a rural to urban movement of only about
7.9 percent of the population. In the case of Barbados and the small
islands, the proportions are also quite small (6 percent and 3.9
percent, respectively), although the movement is in the opposite
direction (from urban to rural areas).

To investigate the motivation for geographic mobility, respondents
were asked the reason why they made the previous move. The results are
in Table 4. With the exception of Barbados, a substantial proportion of
migrants said that they moved to find a job or to change their
occupation. Between 15 and 20 percent of the sample changed residence
when they were young, accompanying parents. Similarly, a large
proportion moved from one place to another either to get married, or to
move in with a girlfriend. Although these findings confirm the salience
of economic motivations for migration, they also suggest the importance
of other factors, such as life-cycle changes, for shifting residence.
These findings confirm other studies of Caribbean migration (see
Marshall, 1982).

Data regarding the magnitude of migration are likely to

Table 2

Inter-Island Migration

Current Country
of Residence

Country of Birth Jamaica Barbados Islands

Jamaica 99.0 -- --

Barbados 1.0 93.0 --

Small Islands --- 7.0 100.0

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

n 206 45 51

Table 3



Resident in Have moved Total
Island of Residence Parrish of Birth From Parish of Birth* (n)

Jamaica 67.7 32.3 100

Barbados 63.4 36.6 100

Small Islands 67.4 32.6 100

* Lifetime migrants

underestimate the real values. The findings reported above are derived
from comparing place of current residence with information on the
respondent's birth place. This approach fails to classify as a migrant
any individual who moves (once, or several times) in his lifetime, yet
currently resides in the same parish or country in which he was born.
In the absence of a complete migration history, it is not possible to
determine the extent to which the results presented here may
underestimate population movement.

Other difficulties are associated with the definition of what is a
rural and what is an urban place. To live "in the countryside" is a
common response that appears to reflect the conventional notion of a
rural area. Beyond that the classification is potentially ambiguous.
Individuals who said they lived in a city or a town were classified as
urban dwellers, although the exact meaning of such terms may not have
been consistent across respondents. Furthermore, the distinction
between urban and rural is not a clear one in the West Indies where the
physical boundaries that separate village and countryside are often

With these caveats in mind, we can make some fairly safe
generalizations about the migratory histories of the individuals who
participated in the H-2 labor force in 1981. Our findings suggest that
very few live in a country or parish different from the one in which
they were born. Similarly, the degree of movement between rural and
urban areas is small. From these data we can conclude that cane cutters
are drawn primarily from a stable, predominately rural sector. The H-2
labor force does not appear to be recruited from the highly mobile
Caribbean population.

2. Education

The level of education achieved by an individual has a profound
effect on his overall life chances. Measures of educational attainment
for the sample of workers can be derived from several questionnaire
items. These include school attendance at the primary and secondary
levels as well as participation in specialized training programs or
apprenticeships for the acquisition of vocational skills.

Indicators of educational background are shown in Table 5. The
results reflect a fairly low level of formal education. Nearly 13
percent of the labor force never attended school. For those who did,
the average number of years of primary education is only 3.9. Further
study beyond the primary grades is uncommon. Only 4.4 percent of the
total sample were exposed to some schooling at the secondary level.
These measures of educational background are approximately the same in
Jamaica and in the small islands. Barbadians appear to be an exception.
On the average, individuals from this island have more primary education
(5.7 years), and a comparatively larger proportion attended secondary
school (17.1 percent). This is in keeping with Barbados' status as the


Primary Reason for


Previous Move

Reason for move Jamaica Barbados Islands

Moved with parents 15.0 18.8 17.6

Got married or moved
in with girlfriend 18.0 43.8 17.6

To find/change
employment 25.4 0.6 35.3

Other 41.6 36.8 29.5

Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

n* 67 16 17

* Number of lifetime migrants

Table 5

Educational Attainment
(% By Island)

Respondents Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

School 87.3 89.0 100.0 70.6

School 4.4 3.8 17.1 2.0

Training 43.2 38.6 61.4 64.0

Night School
in Florida 13.7 15.1 11.1 5.9

most developed of the five sending islands (see Appendix A).

A separate aspect of an individual's educational background
concerns the acquisition of specialized skills. Training of this type
can be of two general kinds. Skills can be obtained formally, through
technical, trade or vocational schools, or through institutionalized
apprenticeship programs. Alternatively, informal training takes place
on the job, or via a less structured form of education.

Nearly half of those interviewed (43 percent) declared that they
had experienced some form of technical training, but as might be
expected, the vast majority (85.7 percent) acquired their skills
informally. Compared to workers from Jamaica, the proportion with
special skills is relatively high in Barbados (61.4 percent) and in the
small islands (64 percent). Among those with training, the most
frequently cited areas of specialization were skills associated with the
construction industry, especially masonry (38.2 percent) and carpentry
(20.7 percent). Other areas cited by the respondents include a wide
range of occupations (bakers, butchers, drivers, electricians, painters,
plumbers and tailors). Given the recruiters' policy of screening out
skilled tradesmen, we would expect that the specialized training
referred to by our respondents is not of a highly skilled nature.

It is also possible for cane cutters to further their education
while they are in Florida. Employers in the sugar industry provide
daily transportation to a night school located in the town of Belle
Glade. Approximately 13 percent of the labor force took part in the
voluntary program jointly sponsored by the industry and BWICLO.
Participation rates were highest among Jamaicans and lowest among those
from the small islands.

A final consideration is the educational selectivity of the H-2
recruitment process. Specifically, do workers who cut cane in Florida
have more or less education compared to the populations from which they
are drawn? The absence of comparable data for all the islands involved
makes it difficult to answer this question with precision. A rough
indication is nonetheless provided by the 1970 census of Jamaica.
According to that source of information, the average schooling for males
between the ages of 15 and 64 is 6.1 years. This value is over two
years higher than that for Jamaican cane cutters interviewed in Florida
(3.8 years). It would appear, then, that the H-2 labor force (from
Jamaica) is generally selective of those with less education than the
population at large. Again, this conforms to the employers policy of
recruiting unskilled farm workers.

This conclusion should be treated as tentative for at least two
reasons. First, the census is for 1970, over a decade before the date
of the survey carried out in Florida. Second, it can be argued that the
relevant comparison is not the overall population of Jamaica, which
includes urban areas. The appropriate reference groups, rather, should
be those living in rural places on the island. Unfortunately the
information on educational attainment is not cross-classified in this
way by the census.

Table 6

Educational Attainment by Previous Seasons Worked

Previous Seasons Worked

Mean years of
Primary Schooling

0-2 4.3

3-4 3.6

5-6 3.3

7 + 3.9


There is another aspect of the selectivity issue that is
associated, not with the recruitment of workers, per se, but with the
retention of individuals in the labor force from one season to the next.
As noted earlier in this report, the contract arrangement between the
sugar industry and the BWICLO permits employers to rehire 60 percent of
the labor force the following year (66.7% of our sample were preferred
workers). The criteria used by the industry to select "preferred"
workers includes a number of factors, the most important of which is
productivity. The question posed here is whether or not this yearly
selection process is selective of workers with high or low educational

To address this question the sample of H-2 labor force is
classified according to the number of previous seasons worked. If the
process of designating preferred workers is systematically selective
(in terms of education), we expect the mean years of schooling to change
as the number of past seasons increase. The results, shown in Table 6,
do not support this conclusion. Individuals that have worked two
seasons or less show a somewhat higher level of educational attainment
compared to those workers who have returned many times. This
difference, however, is relatively small, and is not statistically
significant. A more thorough analysis of this issue (using a regression
format to control for the respondent's age) does not alter the results
presented above. This would seem to indicate that worker productivity
(and therefore his value to his employer) is primarily a function of
experience cutting Florida cane rather than formal education.

3. Housing and Hme Ownership

Housing is an important indicator of a population's overall quality
of life. It can be assumed that the outright ownership of a home
indirectly reflects a degree of accumulation that is above that of an
individual who rents living space. The distinction between home owners
and renters thus provides a starting point for an analysis of the
socioeconomic conditions that characterize the BWI labor force at the
place of origin. In the Caribbean, where living arrangements often
assume complex forms, other criteria in addition to the owner/renter
distinction, are also important.

As shown in Table 7, the vast majority of the H-2 workers live in
houses, as opposed to flats or single rooms. This is especially true in
Barbados (95.6 percent) and in the small islands (92.2 percent). Only
in Jamaica does a relatively large percentage of the labor force reside
in flats or rooms (21.3 percent). Because the overwhelming majority of
the workers are from rural areas, where single family dwellings are
common, the large proportion of the labor force that live in houses is
not surprising.

Whether the individual was an owner or a renter, or if he had some
other arrangement with respect to housing, was determined by an

Table 7

Type of Residence
(% By Island)

Respondent lives in Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

House 81.3 78.6 95.6 92.2

Flat 10.9 12.1 4.4 5.9

Room 7.8 9.2 --- 2.0

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Table 8

Type of Housing Arrangement, by Age

Type of Housing
Arrangement Age of Respondent

Total 20-24 25-29 30-40 40 +

Own Home 46.9 22.6 17.5 42.6 81.9

Rents 19.2 7.8 20.2 26.4 10.3
(From family) (2.3)
(From non-family) (14.3)
(Land, owns home) (2.6)

Other Arrangement 30.6 69.6 53.6 29.0 6.1
(Parents own) (15.8)
(Other family member owns) (13.5)
(Non-family member owns) (1.3)

Other 33.3 --- 8.7 2.0 1.7

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

N 251

open-ended item included in the survey questionnaire. The results of
the analysis are presented in Table 8. For the sample as a whole, 46.9
percent owned their own home. About one in every five workers paid rent
of some kind, either for a house or flat, or, in some instances paid
rent for the land on which the individual's home was built. A
comparison between the various islands (not shown) reveals very few
differences in the housing profile.

In addition to the distinction between owners and renters, the data
presented in Table 8 reflect significant social dimensions of the
housing question. About one in three workers (30.6 percent) neither pay
rent nor do they own the place in which they live. Over 15 percent
occupy a house that is owned by parents; 13.5 percent occupy facilities
that belong to other members of the family. For those who pay rent,
only on rare occasions is it paid to persons who are related to the
respondent (2.3 percent).

The pattern shown for the sample as a whole overlooks important
life cycle differences that exist with regard to housing arrangements.
As shown in the right-hand panels of Table 8, significant changes appear
when we compare men of different ages. The proportion of home owners
increases in the older ages, reaching 81.9 percent for those 40 years of
age and older. On the other hand, rent-free occupancy of family owned
property is characteristic of young men. The proportion who benefit
from rent-free arrangement steadily declines at older ages.

These results indicate that workers, especially those who are in
the younger ages (below 30), draw heavily for their support on the
larger familial networks of which they are a part. More generally, the
information on housing arrangements confirms the importance of family
ties in the Caribbean context.

B. Occupation and Agricultural Activities

1. Occupational Background

A salient characteristic of Caribbean society is the multiplicity
of employment. In a given day, week, or month, an individual can be
involved in any number of income generating activities (Brana-Shute and
Brana-Shute, 1981). In the social science literature the frequent
movement across job categories is sometimes referred to as "occupational

Short of a complete work history (which we do not have), the
fluidity of employment is difficult to capture with a survey instrument.
A general picture of the worker's occupational background at the place
of origin can nonetheless be constructed from a set of questions as to
the respondents's primary occupation back home, and additional inquiries

Table 9

Distribution of Principal,
Second and Third Occupations Back in Islands

Occupation Principal Second Third

Farmer, Farm worker 63.8 37.1 25.9

Construction Related 19.8 32.9 19.6

Carpenters 4.8 4.8 3.6

Masons 7.3 9.2 9.1

Laborers 4.6 11.7 5.7

OthersI 3.1 7.2 1.2

Service related2 2.5 2.8 7.2

Drivers, Mechanics 3.3 9.3 5.7

Cane Cutters 1.7 2.5 7.2

Fishermen 0.4 1.5 4.3

Other3 8.5 13.9 30.1

Total 100 100 100

n of cases 251 141 28

% with a second occ'n -- 56.2 --

% with a third occ'n -- 11.1

1 Painter, Plumbers, Electricians, Cook

2 Petty sales, Clerks, Waiters

3 Bakers, Butchers, Tailors, Other

as to the other jobs that he may regularly perform.

The results generated by this approach are presented in Table 9.
The percentage distribution shown in the first column demonstrates the
importance of agricultural work, an expected finding since industry
recruiters seek farm workers. For about two-thirds (63.8 percent) of
the respondents, the primary occupation given was that of farmer or farm
worker. Within the category of "primary occupation," the second most
important jobs were those related to the construction industry. One in
every five workers (19.8 percent) were involved in the building trade as
either carpenters (4.8 percent), masons (7.3 percent), laborers (4.6
percent) or other miscellaneous tasks(3.1 percent).

Other occupations, such as drivers, mechanics, fishermen and
waiters are only marginally represented. It is worth noting that only
1.7 percent of the men interviewed on the sugar plantations in Florida
declared cane cutting to be their primary job back home.

When asked about their second most important occupation, 37.1
percent of the sample said they were farmers or farm workers. As a
source of secondary employment the importance of jobs related to
construction increased to 32.9 percent. Finally, as shown in the last
column of Table 9, farming and construction remain the principal
occupations even for those who declare three regularly performed jobs.

The patterns of primary and secondary employment cannot be assumed
to be the same across islands, as evident from the findings summarized
in Table 10. Given the importance noted above of agriculture and
construction-related jobs, the percentage distributions presented here
are, for the sake of simplicity, restricted to these two work
categories. The inter-island comparison shows Barbados to be a marked
exception. On this island only 13.3 percent of the respondents declared
agriculture to be their principal employment. The construction
industry, on the other hand, is the major source of jobs in Barbados.
The predominance of construction workers, and the relatively low number
of farmers and farm workers in Barbados, is the opposite of what is
found in the case of Jamaica and in the small islands.

Because the job categories presented in this section are based on
the individual's self-report, the occupational data should be regarded
with caution. It is often hard to know what separates one job
description from another. Two workers, for example, may perform
identical tasks, yet one may report his occupation as that of carpenter,
the other simply as a construction worker.

These difficulties notwithstanding, the occupational distributions
presented in this section provide some indication of the character of
the population from which the H-2 workers are drawn. With the exception
of Barbados, the findings confirm the predominance of farmers and
farm-related workers. Jobs in the construction industry are also
important, especially as a source of secondary employment. Farming and
construction work account for 84.8 percent of the principal occupations,
and 75.5 percent of the second jobs. The range of occupational
backgrounds represented is, therefore, quite limited. Moreover, as

Table 10

Distribution of Principal and Second Occupation By Island

Jamaica Barbados Islands

Principal Occupation

Farm Related 69.3 13.3 64.7

Construction Related 15.5 62.2 17.7

Second Occupation

Farm Related 39.3 42.2 40.1

Construction Related 32.3 19.2 40.0

shown in the lower portion of Table 9, only 11.1 percent have a third
job. Taken together, these findings indicate, in keeping with industry
recruiting objectives, that cane cutters in Florida are recruited almost
exclusively from farmers and/or construction workers in the Caribbean.

2. Agriculture and Farming

The occupational profile of the H-2 labor force confirms the
importance of the role of agriculture in the lives of the men who
migrate to Florida to harvest sugar cane and the success of industry
policy in recruiting.such men. The labor force is drawn primarily from
the population of small farmers and rural laborers on the islands.
Estimates derived from the sample as a whole indicate that 88.4 percent
of the respondents were engaged in some form of farming activity in the
year prior to the interview, and therefore, fit our definition of
"farmer." The proportion is highest in the small islands (94.1
percent), followed closely by Jamaica (91.0 percent) with considerable
decline for Barbados (42.2 percent).

Descriptions of the traditional small farmer in the developing
world, despite important variations, have taken on a relatively
"standard" form. He works a few acres of land and the farm is the
primary locus of production and consumption. Labor is applied to the
land with a few, simple hand tools, with the occasional assistance of
animal power. The small farmer draws on his own labor, as well as that
of his family or a hired hand. In our study we found that 63.8 percent
of the sample considered farming and farmwork to be their principal
occupation and that 88.4 percent had "farmed land" in the year prior to
the survey.

Jamaicans, who constitute the largest proportion of the H-2 labor
force, fall generally within the standard definition of small farmers.
There are, however, several differences in terms of emphasis, and with
respect to certain qualifications that apply specifically to the
Jamaican case. According to Edwards (cited in USAID, 1978), small
farmers in Jamaica (less than five acres) rely heavily on family labor.
As will be noted later in this section, the support of family members is
especially important to migrant laborers because they are absent from
their home several months out of the year. Another characteristic is
that the vast majority of Jamaican small farms are found on hillside
land, where the soils of moderate natural fertility have been heavily

Despite these constraints, a high proportion of small farmers in
Jamaica are actively involved in commercial agriculture. Indeed, most
of them do not consider themselves subsistence farmers at all. Mixed
farming of food and export crops is the typical orientation. Income
generated from the marketed surplus is used to meet both household and
farm necessities. Thus, the importance of the small farmer sector in
the overall context of Jamaican agriculture should not be

underestimated. A recent AID (1978) report summarizes the part played
by the small farmer in the following way:

1. The small farmer produces most of the nation's domestic food
crop. This includes: legumes, vegetables, condiments, fruits, cereals,
plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and other tubers. This
represented a value of J$115.0 million in 1976.and J$129.4 million in

2. Small farmers produce a substantial part of the nation's
foreign exchange that originates in agricultural exports. This includes
most of the coffee and cocoa, pimento and ginger, and smaller
percentages of bananas and sugar cane. Approximately 25 percent of the
value of agricultural exports in 1977 are estimated to have derived from
the small-farm sector.

This section reports the results of several questionnaire items
which sought to probe into the extent and nature of farming activities
of the H-2 labor force, which is so heavily agricultural. Emphasis is
given to a general description of the land tenure arrangements, to the
size of plots that the individual owns, or has access to, and to a rough
inventory of the crops cultivated and livestock owned. These data, it
should be emphasized, are principally intended to provide a general
profile of the labor force that seasonally migrates to Florida to
harvest sugar cane. The agricultural background of these men is a
fundamental aspect of their social and economic circumstances at the
place of origin. The survey instrument, however, was not primarily
designed to be a sophisticated agricultural questionnaire. As a result,
less information is included in the data set than might have been the
case were the analysis restricted solely to this area of investigation.
We do not, for example, have reliable data on the quantity of
agricultural output, nor are we able to accurately assess the amount of
income specifically generated from agricultural activities. These
limitations notwithstanding, the information at hand does provide a
general, if incomplete, characterization of the labor force that is
recruited in the West Indies. This agricultural profile of the workers
in the sugar program will, in turn, play a central role in the
evaluation presented in subsequent sections of the mechanisms by which
stateside employment influences the islands from which the workers come.

3. Size of Plot

Land is an essential element in agricultural production. Access to
and ownership of land is an important social indicator for those who
till land. Furthermore, we might expect participation in the H-2
program, and the wages earned in the United States, to affect the
workers' access to this factor of production.

The distribution of land cultivated by plot size is presented in
Table 11. As shown in the first column, over a quarter of the H-2

Table 11

Size of Area Cultivated
(% Distribution by Category)

Acres Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

0.0 1.4 1.7 -

0.5 25.5 24.3 82.3 21.7

1.0 18.1 20.4 11.8 4.3

1.5 10.7 12.7 -

2.0 12.1 11.6 --- 19.6

2.5-4.0 18.1 16.0 5.9 34.8

4.5-6.0 10.2 9.9 --- 15.2

6 + 3.9 3.4 --- 4.4

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

n 215 181 17 46

Mean 2.2 2.2 .8 2.7

Median 1.5 1.4 .6 2.4

workers own or have access to less than one acre of land. The mean and
median farm size are 2.2 and 1.5 acres, respectively. With regard to
the size of plot, Jamaica and the small islands appear to have a fairly
similar pattern. Barbados is again an exception. For the few
individuals who do own farms, 82.3 percent have half an acre of ground.
The relatively small farm size in Barbados is reflected in the average
plot size of only .8 acres.

To say that the plots in the Caribbean cultivated by H-2 workers
are "small" presumes that there is some relative standard to which the
data on size of plot is being compared. In other words, it is
necessary, for a more complete interpretation of these results, to place
the findings from the survey of the H-2 workers into a broader context
of the agrarian structure of the societies from which they are
recruited. This avenue of inquiry poses a number of difficulties that
are both of a conceptual and of an empirical nature. Secondary sources
of data, for example, may not employ the precise definition of "farm
size" as that which we have used in this study. On a more practical
level, it should also be noted that the requisite information, which
also conforms to the same time period of the interviews that were
carried out in Florida, is not always available for the various islands
that participate in the labor program.

These drawbacks are less severe in the case of Jamaica where data
from previous agricultural censuses offer useful reference points for
comparative analysis. The most recent figures that are available to us
at this time only go through 1968. Although these data are out of date,
the pattern of land distribution tends, as a general rule, to remain
fairly stable over time. The available census data thus provides an
approximate notion of how the farming background of cane cutters relates
to the larger context of Jamaican agriculture. Conclusions drawn from
such an analysis must, necessarily, be treated as tentative.

The data on the distribution of the number and the acreage of farms
by size groups in Jamaica are shown in Table 12. As noted above,
information from 1954 through 1968 reveals a fairly stable pattern, at
least insofar as the distribution of cultivated farm land is'concerned.
In 1954 about 13 percent of the agriculturally productive land was found
in farms that were less than 5 acres in size. The comparable figure in
1968 is 14.9 percent. At the other end of the distribution, it is clear
that well over half of the acreage (since 1961) is held by farms that
exceed 100 acres in size.

A separate, but related, indicator of the structure of Jamaican
agricultural sector is the percentage distribution of farms by size of
plot. These data are presented in the lower panel of Table 12. The
estimates since 1954 show a moderate, but quite marked, increase in the
proportion of farm establishments in the lowest size class (69.9 percent
in 1954; 78.4 percent in 1968). If the proportion of small farms is on
the rise, the small percent of farms in the largest size category has
remained almost unchanged over the 14 year period. The information on
the distribution of acreage, taken together with the size distribution
of farms, offers a telling insight into the character of land ownership
on the island. The figures that appear in the extreme right column of

Table 12

Distribution by Number and Acreage
of Farms, Jamaica

For Country*

For Sample**



























of Acres









of Farms

2.8 .7

2.5 .7

* Agricultural Census, 1961/62 and 1968/69
** Survey of H-2 workers in Florida










the table shows that, in 1968, only 0.6 percent of all farms controlled
over half (54.8 percent) of the agricultural lands. As is the case in
most other developing countries, this pattern reveals a high
concentration of land ownership in the rural sector of Jamaica.

How does the population of H-2 workers fit into this global picture
of Jamaican agriculture? The figures presented in the last row of Table
12 provide an approximate answer to this question. As shown in the
first column, the vast majority (93.5 percent) have farms that are below
five acres in size. This proportion is substantially above the
proportion of farmers in this size class for the country as a whole.
These findings therefore imply that the H-2 workers that harvest cane in
Florida tend to be recruited from the rural population of Jamaica that
has the fewest agricultural resources (as measured by size of farm) at
its disposal.

4. Land Tenure

Forms of land tenure (i.e. the nature of the tiller's access) in
the Caribbean are often quite complex. The concept of single farm unit,
owned and operated by the head of a nuclear family, does exist. But, in
addition to this kind of arrangement, there are many other formal and
informal ways by which individuals gain access to land. The family, and
the broader network of both kin and friends, play an important role in
the way in which land is divided and cultivated, and the way that labor
is applied to this factor of production. There is a wide range of
possible combinations of tenure forms. This phenomena makes it
especially difficult to capture with a survey instrument the full
complexity of the structure of land use in the islands. Responses to a
set of questionnaire items do, however, provide a rough indication of
the prevailing patterns among H-2 workers.

The importance of "family land" in the Caribbean is evidenced by
the percentage distribution of the various forms of land tenure, as
presented in Table 13. Over 28 percent of those engaged in agriculture
cultivate land that belongs to the family network of which they are a
member. This is especially true in the small islands where the
proportion of outright owners is low, and the proportion cultivating
family property is relatively high. For the most part the patterns
across islands tend to be similar. Compared to Jamaica, more variation
is present in Barbados and in the small islands. This empirical result,
however, is most likely associated with the small number of cases drawn
from the Eastern Caribbean, and the consequent increase in the range of
sampling error which renders these estimates less stable. In general
the findings presented in this section suggest that about a third of the
workers involved in the H-2 program lease or rent the land that they
cultivate. A somewhat smaller percentage (29.1 percent) own their farm
plot. Approximately 28 percent have access to land through their family
network. Sharecropping appears to be uncommon.

It is important to recall that the data presented in these tables
represent a cross-section of those workers who harvested sugar cane in

Table 13

Nature of Land Tenure Arrangements By Island

Tenure Arrangement Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

Own 29.1 30.1 27.8 22.9

Lease/Rent 34.4 34.9 33.3 31.3

Family Land 28.7 27.4 27.8 37.5

Sharecrop 1.3 1.1 5.6 2.1

Other 6.4 6.5 5.6 6.3

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Florida during the 1980-81 season. The sample contains individuals that
are of different ages, and with varying degrees of previous experience
in the H-2 labor program. As noted in another section devoted to the
analysis of housing arrangements, one would expect the form of land
tenure to change according to the stage of the individuals' life cycle,
and/or as a result of the number of previous seasons that were worked
(two variables which are themselves intercorrelated). More
specifically, it is likely that young men, early in the stage of family
formation and capital accumulation, would show a greater dependence on
family networks relative to older, more experienced workers. At a more
general level of analysis, changes in land tenure reflect the dynamic
relationships that exist between the life cycle of the individual, the
character of his agriculture production, and degree of insertion into
and reliance upon the family system.

To investigate this hypothesis the form of land tenure, which is
presented in aggregate form in Table 13, can be broken down by the age
of the respondent, and the number of past seasons worked in the United
States. These results (not shown) confirm the expectations posited
above. The percentage of the H-2 labor force that owns land is 21
percent for those with less than two years of previous work experience
in Florida. As the number of past seasons increases, the proportion
owning land rises to nearly 40 percent (for those who have worked seven
or more seasons in the past). Conversely, the number who cultivate
family land is larger for newcomers to Florida (33.3 percent) compared
to those who have repeatedly engaged in stateside employment (13.3

The same patterns hold true for age. Older workers (40 years and
older) are more likely to own their own land (84.2 percent) compared to
younger men (37.5 percent for those 20 to 24 years of age). Similarly,
47.5 percent of men 20 to 24 years old cultivate family property as
compared to only 10.8 percent of the individuals who are over 40 years
of age. As in the analysis of other variables, these findings confirm
the importance, especially among young men, of family networks in the
economic life of individuals in the Caribbean.

5. Use jf Labor

If the forms of land tenure in the Caribbean are complex, so too
are the various mechanisms commonly employed to cultivate land. These
strategies are particularly important in the case of migrant laborers.
Individuals who farm in their home country must make allowances for the
fact that they will be absent a substantial proportion of the year. The
process of harvesting cane in the United States, which can last anywhere
from about 3 to 6 months, thus requires that the worker make
arrangements for someone to look after and to maintain his investment
back home. These strategies must be viewed within the context of the
usual practices commonly employed in the region. The analysis of the
labor process thus begins with a brief overview of some key indicators

Table 14

Selected Indicators of Rural Labor Practices and
of the Impact of Emigration

A. Labor Exchanges in the Previous Year Percent

None 31.7

Exchange with neighbors 14.9

Exchange with friends 36.2

Exchange with family 5.0

Other 12.0

Total 99.8

B. Who tends to farm during absence

No one 5.2

Wife/Children 41.8

Other family members 37.1

Friends 6.1

Paid workers 8.4

Total 98.6

of the way in which individuals provide labor for their agricultural

The responses to questions regarding the employment of labor are
presented in Table 14. The practice of informal labor exchange, an
arrangement that is widespread in the Caribbean, is clearly revealed by
these findings. Two-thirds of the sample indicated that they did engage
in some form of labor exchange during the previous year. These
arrangements were most often carried out with friends (36.2 percent) or
with neighbors (14.9 percent) who live in the same vicinity.

An important question that arises in this context is the way in
which the emigration of farmers from the islands affects the labor
process on the farm. It is sometimes argued that the absence because of
migration of a principal worker from the household unit will have a
positive effect on the rural labor market at the place of origin (see
Griffin, 1976). These expectations are grounded on a set of
inter-related assumptions, including the assumption that there is no
labor surplus. Two key premises include the idea that absentee workers
reduce the supply of labor on the islands, and that the money that is
earned abroad is used to hire other laborers to take their places.
According to this line of reasoning, stateside employment will have a
positive effect in a double sense: by reducing the supply of labor in
the countryside the general wage level in the rural area is driven
upward. Second, the influx of remittances permits the employment of
individuals who would not otherwise be hired. The overall effect of
these transformations would be a rise in the income levels of the
population. In the long run, the effect is to achieve a more equitable
distribution of income.

The framework summarized above can be questioned on a number of
grounds, especially the assumption that there is little excess labor.
By whatever conceptual issues are at stake here (which we will not delve
into at this point), the model nonetheless presumes that absent migrant
workers in fact replace themselves with hired hands using funds that
are, either directly or indirectly, related to the migrant's employment
outside of his place of residence.

The findings presented in the lower panel of Table 14 are not
consistent with this expectation. In a small and relatively
insignificant proportion of cases (5.2 percent) no one at all takes over
the tasks when the individual leaves the country. For the most part,
however, it is the immediate or extended family that fills in the gap.
According to nearly half of the respondents (41.8 percent), the
responsibilities associated with the farm fall to wives and children.
"Other family members" account for 37.1 percent of the labor needs.
Taken together, this implies that, in about 79 percent of the cases it
is the family that takes the place of the migrant worker while he is
employed in the United States. Only 3.4 percent actually hired labor in
their absence. These findings suggest that the effects on the rural
labor market, assumed to operate via the mechanisms noted above, may be
less important than is sometimes assumed.

6. Agricultural Production, Consumption and Marketing

A final consideration in this section on agriculture is the nature
of the crops that are produced by workers who participate in the H-2
program. Three primary objectives serve to organize the presentation of
the data. The first is to provide a general profile of the types of
commodities that are produced. In addition, it is necessary to examine
inter-island differences in the types of agricultural output. A final
consideration is an attempt to discern the extent to which different
crops are produced primarily for sale or for consumption. The crops
most frequently cited by the respondents are presented in Table 15.
They include bananas, oranges, yams, cane, peas and vegetables.
Inter-island differences, at least insofar as such differences pertain
to the range of crops planted, are relatively minimal. All of the basic
foodstuffs noted above are produced, to a greater or lesser degree, in
each of the islands that form part of our sample.

When we turn our attention to the extent to which particular
agricultural crops are cultivated for consumption purposes, or for sale,
significant differences within and between islands do appear. Before
proceeding with a detailed analysis along these lines, it is important
to note the limitations that pertain to the data at hand. Under ideal
conditions one would want, for each individual in the sample, a precise
indication, not only of what he grows back home, but also information on
the proportion of the total crop that is consumed or marketed. Further
refinements would place a monetary value on the agricultural output.
Such a data set could identify the relative degrees to which a
particular crop is a source of income, a finding that would, in turn,
provide a quantitative assessment of the importance of farming to yearly
household earnings.

The questionnaire used in this study falls short of this ideal. We
do not, for example, have adequate information as to the precise
proportion of the agricultural output that is marketed or consumed.
After eliciting from the respondent information as to the crops that he
planted, subsequent items merely asked if these crops were grown
primarily for sale or for consumption. The intermediate response
("consume some/sell some) is ambiguous. Within this category we have no
way of knowing what the relative proportions (between selling and
consuming) might be. Our measure of consumption or marketing is
admittedly crude. The findings must, therefore, be considered as little
more than approximations.

A second point is the generalizability of our findings. Current
market forces undoubtedly have an effect on the distribution between
consumption and sale. Price fluctuations in a competitive marketplace,
government incentive policies, interest rates and other factors,
including the costs of transportation and of fertilizers, influence the
relative profitability of commodities from one year to the next. The
findings presented here refer primarily to 1980, the season prior to
when the interviews were carried out in Florida. These patterns are

probably relatively stable over time. However, it would be unwarranted
to generalize our findings to other years without first confirming the
stability of the various factors that affect the costs of production.

With these caveats in mind, the data presented in Table 15 do
provide us with a general, but nonetheless significant, insight into the
character and destination of agricultural production among H-2 workers.
The results presented in the first column, for example, clearly reveal
the importance of farm production for the maintenance and the
reproduction of the worker and of his household. With the exception of
sugar cane, somewhere between a third and a fourth of the respondents
indicated that all of the agricultural production was devoted
exclusively to their own consumption. In this regard, yams play an
especially important role. Of the farmers interviewed, 34.7 percent
cultivated yams only for their own use.

As units of both production and consumption, rural households, in
order to generate monetary income, also market some portion of their
surplus product. The importance of this aspect of the agricultural
sector in the Caribbean is revealed by the substantial proportion of
respondents who claim to produce various crops solely for the purposes
of sale. For the sample as a whole, bananas, oranges, cane, peas and
vegetables were of particular importance as commodities. The percentage
of respondents who engaged in the production of these items exclusively
for sale ranges from 28.7 percent in the case of yams to over 60 percent
for sugar cane.

The complexity of the information presented in Table 15, hinders
the ready identification of key patterns that exist across islands. To
simplify these findings, a simple index is constructed. The ratio of
the percentage of respondents who market all of crop X to the percent
that consume all of the same product provides a crude indicator of the
degree to which X is a marketed commodity among our population of H-2
workers. A high number would reflect, although in a very crude fashion,
the extent to which a given crop is produced solely for the purposes of
sale. For the sample as a whole (column one), it is clear that sugar
cane, with an index value of 3.9, is a product that is more often
marketed than yams (0.9), oranges (1.4) and peas (1.4).

The summary index is useful for inter-island comparisons. A
cursory examination of the values in parenthesis indicates that the
index of marketability is consistently lowest in the case of Barbados.
Bananas, oranges, yams and cane are produced there, just as they are on
the other islands. At the same time, not one respondent indicated that
these agricultural commodities were solely market-directed. The latter
does not imply that such products as bananas and oranges are never sold
(as indicated by the often substantial proportion of respondents who
fall into the intermediate category of consuming some/selling some).
However, the findings do reflect the fact that agricultural production
is less important to Barbadians as a source of monetary income. The
highest values, by contrast, are found in the small islands. Jamaica
falls somewhere between these two extremes.

These findings have implications for the objectives of this study

Table 15

Consumption and Marketing Pattern for Selected Crops

Crop Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

BANANAS consume all 25.9* 28.1 75.0 11.8
cons./sell 35.8 35.4 25.0 38.2
sell all 38.4 36.5 --- 50.0
(Index) (1.5)** (1.3) (0.0) (4.2)

ORANGES consume all 28.1 36.4 66.7 33.3
cons./sell 32.3 31.8 33.3 50.0
sell all 39.6 31.8 --- 16.7
(Index) (1.4) (0.9) (0.0) (0.5)

YAMS consume all 34.7 35.8 62.5 22.9
cons./sell 36.6 35.8 37.5 42.9
sell all 28.7 28.5 --- 34.3
(Index) (0.9) (0.8) (0.0) (1.5)

CANE consume all 16.1 16.7 20.0 50.0
cons./sell 20.8 20.8 80.0 50.0
sell all 63.0 62.5 -- --
(Index) (3.9) (3.7) (0.0) (0.0)

PEAS consume all 28.1 28.0 40.0 --
cons./sell 32.3 31.7 40.0 100.0
sell all 39.6 40.2 20.0 ---
(Index) (1.4) (1.4) (0.5) (0.0)

VEGETABLES consume all 23.8 25.9 38.5 8.0
cons./sell 40.2 37.0 46.2 56.0
sell all 35.9 37.0 15.4 36.0
(Index) (1.5) (1.4) (0.4) (4.5)

* In percent
** Index = sell all/consume all

and more generally, for conceptualizing the way in which transnational
migration affects sending societies. It is clear, for example, that the
population of H-2 workers, although they share many characteristics in
common, should not, for the purposes of analysis or for policy
formulation, be treated as a homogeneous group. Moreover, the
inter-island differences in agricultural production is one factor (among
many others) which suggests that attempts to assess the impact of the
H-2 program at the place of origin must be sensitive to the fundamental
differences that exist between islands, and to the variability between
individuals recruited to harvest cane in south Florida.

Household Composition

The questionnaire applied to the sample of West Indian cane cutters
included several items designed to obtain information regarding the
characteristics of the respondent's household back on the island. These
data provide the basis for further examination of the role of stateside
employment in the lives of those who participate in the H-2 labor force.
Variables such as average household size, the dependency ratio and the
number of other members who have jobs provide an indication of the
importance of seasonal migration to the domestic unit of which the
worker is a part.

The results shown in Table 16 indicate that workers belong to
households that, on the average, contain over 6 people. Nearly half of
the members of the unit (3.0) are under 15 years of age; most of them
are enrolled in school. Fewer than two other household members are
employed outside of the household. Since the vast majority of cane
cutters farm land in the Caribbean, it is likely that many of the
individuals that form part of the domestic unit, including children,
participate in productive activities of one sort or another.

A commonly used indicator of the degree of economic dependency in a
population is the age dependency ratio. This measure is defined as the
ratio of the combined youth and aged population (ages 0-14 and 65+) to
the population in the intermediate, presumably economically active, age
range (15 to 65), multiplied by 100. This value provides a rough
indication of the degree of dependence on the economically active
population, a measure that is useful for international comparisons.

The age dependency ratio varies widely from country to country. In
1970 developing nations such as Nigeria, Bangladesh and Brazil the ratio
exceeded 100. On the other hand, in more developed countries such as
Denmark and Japan the ratio was around 50. The differences are
primarily determined by the proportion of children in a population,
which, in turn, depends on fertility levels. Estimates derived from the
survey suggest that the dependency ratio is around 90 for the population
of West Indian cane cutters in 1980/81. Taken together, these
characteristics of the workers' household indicate that they support a
substantial number of people with their earnings from the U. S.

Table 16

Household Characteristics*

Household Size 6.3**

Number under age 15 3.0

Number in School 2.6

Number 15 to 64 years of age 3.3**

Number over age 65 0.1

Number of other members with jobs 1.6

* Average values, total sample
** Includes the respondent

1. Earnings in he United States

Central to the study of the H-2 program is the analysis of workers'
wages. the wage earned in the United States provides the basis for
estimating, if only in very approximate terms, the magnitude of money
and goods remitted to the Caribbean, a topic to be taken up in the next

Estimates of income earned, derived from individual responses to
questionnaire items, are subject to a number of problems. The
information is generated on a self-report basis, with no feasible way to
directly verify the accuracy of the responses given. The latter may be
subject to a number of potential sources of error. These include:
lapses in memory, a deliberate under or overstatement of the true
figures and, possibly, the reluctance on the part of individuals to
respond at all to what may be considered a sensitive or private matter.

To minimize these potential sources of bias, numerous steps were
taken. In the interest of enhancing the accuracy of the income data,
individuals were reminded, both of the anonymity of their responses, and
of their right to decline to answer any question that they might be
reluctant to address. To minimize memory error, questions as to gross
and net income figures were restricted to the previous two week pay

The fortnight prior to the interview may, of course, not be
representative of a typical work period. Wages vary according to weather
and other factors that affect worker productivity and earning potential.
To investigate for this possibility, a follow-up item was included in
the questionnaire. It asked whether the worker's pay during the
reference period was "above," "below" or "about the same" as his "usual
pay." Fifty percent of those interviewed indicated that it was about
the same. Those responding that it was higher or lower were evenly
split. The distribution of these answers suggests that, for the most
part, the previous fortnight was not an atypical work period. Second,
the responses imply that the equal proportions of over and
underestimations of the average wage would tend, for the sample as a
whole, to cancel one another out.

Data on earnings during the fortnight prior to the interview are
given in Table 17. As shown at the bottom of panels A and B, the
average gross and net wage for the total sample were $420 and $245,
respectively. Inter-island differences are apparent. Workers from
Barbados appear to be above the mean; those from the small islands are
below it. This pattern holds true for estimates of both gross and net

D. Overseas Earnings and Remittances


How accurate are these figures? Ideally, individual responses to
this question could be checked against the worker's actual pay receipt.
Under the conditions in which the interviews were carried out, such a
direct method of verification was not possible. However, there are
several indirect methods by which to evaluate these data. It should be
noted, for example, that the overall refusal rate was very low (less
than 2 percent). This does not, in and of itself, indicate that the
answers given are necessarily correct. Nonetheless, a low refusal rate
does suggest that the question on earnings was not one that workers were
predisposed to avoid outright.

In addition to an analysis of the refusal rate, the accuracy of the
data on earnings can also be assessed by investigating the internal
consistency of the average estimates presented. As discussed in Part I
of this report, several standard deductions are withdrawn from the
worker's gross pay check. These include a $5.20 daily deduction for
meals (or $72.80 for the two-week pay period). An additional 25 percent
is deducted for the savings plan and BWICLO assessment. The average
gross wage estimated from the survey data shown in Panel A is $420.
This implies that the 25 percent accounts for about $105. Taken
together ($72.80 plus $105), these deductions amount to $177.80 for an
average fortnight. If the survey estimates of earnings are consistent,
then the mean gross wage ($420), minus the known deductions ($177.80),
should come close to the average net wage reported by the individuals
that were interviewed. The value generated by this procedure, $242.20
is very close to the estimate of net earnings ($245, as shown in Panel

Evidence that the fortnight prior to the interview (the reference
period) was not atypical, a low refusal rate and the high internal
consistency of the data indirectly suggest that the information on
workers' wages generated by the survey can be accepted as reasonable
estimates of actual earnings. However, for the reasons cited earlier in
this section, these data should be regarded as approximations of the
true values.

2. Remittances

The role of worker remittances is a key aspect of the seasonal
labor migration from less to more developed countries. For the purposes
of this section three issues are of central concern. The first
objective is to estimate the magnitude of the resources that are sent
back to the home islands as a result of stateside employment. The
second is to determine the recipients of the remittances, while the
third is to analyze the various ways in which this money is put to use
in the Caribbean. Answering these questions provides the basic
information for assessing the degree and the mechanisms by which the H-2
program influences sending societies.

Table 17

Workers' Gross and Net Incomes for the Previous Fortnight

Percentage Distribution of Respondents

A. Gross Earnings* Total Jamaica Barbados Islands

0-199 3.8 3.9 5.0 2.4

200-299 5.7 6.7 2.5 ---

300-399 31.0 30.6 17.5 41.5

400-499 33.7 31.7 37.5 46.3

500-599 17.6 18.3 22.5 9.8

600-699 5.7 6.1 10.0 ---

700 + 2.5 2.7 5.0 ---

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Missing cases 13.4** 12.6 11.1 19.6

Mean Gross Wages $420 $419 $463 $405

Percentage Distribution of Respondents

B. Net Earnings

0-199 26.1 25.4 25.0 31.9

200-299 45.1 45.7 32.5 46.8

300-399 22.6 22.8 30.0 17.0

400-499 4.0 3.6 10.0 4.3

500-599 1.8 2.0 2.5

600-699 0.4 0.5 --

700 + --- --- -

Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0

Missing cases 5.2 4.4 11.1 7.8

Mean Net Wages $245 $245 $270 $233

In U.S. dollars
** Percent (includes refusals and missing data)


In the case of cane cutters who yearly come to Florida, remittances
to the place of origin are made in several ways. The contract agreement
described in Part I stipulates that 23 percent of the worker's
bi-monthly pay is automatically transferred to a bank account in the
worker's home island. This money, or part of it in the case of Barbados
and the small islands, can be retrieved at the end of the season. In
addition to this automatic savings plan, workers on their own initiative
send substantial amounts of money to family members and to friends via
the mail. Wages are also used to purchase clothes and other items.
Finally, at the end of the harvest, each individual returns to the
Caribbean with a certain amount of cash in hand.

The total value of these monetary (savings plan, money orders,
cash) and non-monetary resources (purchased goods) provides a rough
estimate of the magnitude of the remittances made to the sending
countries. The analysis that follows estimates the amount of money
transmitted through each of the various methods. It also explores some
of the social aspects of these transactions by investigating the
relationship between the respondents in the survey and the recipients of
remitted funds.

a. Savings Plan

As noted above, the contract requires that 23 percent of the
worker's gross wage be deducted from each biweekly paycheck and
deposited in a savings account on the island of origin. The question
addressed here is the following: What is the total amount of money
remitted to the Caribbean as a result of the savings program?

A rough estimate of this value can be generated by taking, as a
starting point of the analysis, the average gross wage earned the
fortnight before the survey, or $420 (see the section on "Earnings").
Of this amount, 23 percent enters the savings account for each
individual ($96.60). The product of this average value times 251 (the
nur.ber of workers that were interviewed) indicates that about $24,246
was deposited for the workers in our sample. This value, however,
applies only to the reference period, and not to the amount sent into
the savings program during the entire season. The latter can be
estimated indirectly, provided that certain assumptions are met.
Responses to another item in the questionnaire, for example, indicate
that the cane cutters who were interviewed had worked an average of 133
days, or about 9.5 pay periods. If the fortnight proceeding the
interview is a typical work period (see the discussion in the section on
"Earnings"), the product of $24,246, times the average number of
fortnights worked (9.5), gives a rough estimate of the total amount
saved during the season by those in the sample, or $230,337 ($917.68 per

The 251 cases in the general sample constitute only 2.967 percent
of all of the workers that came to Florida for the 1980-81 harvest. If

the sample is representative (for a discussion, see the Appendix B),the
survey findings can be generalized to the labor force as a whole. The
results of this procedure indicate that the total remitted to the
Caribbean via the savings plan was about $7,764,000.

Needless to say, this figure should be regarded only as an
approximation. With this caveat in mind, the findings do provide some
idea of the order of magnitude involved. As subsequent analysis will
show, the $7.5 to $8 million that is deducted from the workers' gross
wages and automatically returned to the islands through the savings plan
is the largest component of all remittances to the Caribbean by the H-2
labor force.

b. Mailed Remittances

The questionnaire was designed to elicit information from the
respondent as to the average amount of money mailed to the islands, and
the number of times that he had done so while employed in the United
States. Since the interviews in Florida were carried out late in the
season on the eve of their departure, responses to the question about
the frequency of remittances should provide a reasonably accurate
picture of the number of times that money orders were sent during the
1980-81 season. In addition to amounts and to frequencies, other items
in the survey identified the person to whom the money was sent, and the
way in which these funds were to be used back home. The results of the
analysis are presented in Table 18. As shown in row A, an average of
about $71 was sent to the first recipient mentioned by the worker:
wives, girlfriends and mothers. These individuals received money orders
an average of about 7 times during the season (row B).

The pattern observed for the primary recipient changes
substantially when we analyze the amount, frequency and the destination
of the funds sent to recipients 2, 3 and 4. The person receiving wages
from the worker in Florida shifts from wives, girlfriends and mothers
(the main receivers) to sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, and to
more distant associates ("friends" and "others"). This change is
accompanied by three others worth noting. First, the average amount
sent steadily drops from an average of $71 for recipient 1 to a low of
$15 for the fourth receiver. Second, the frequency of sending money
orders also declines from 7 (recipient 1) to 3.3 times (recipient 4).
Finally, as is clear from the data shown in row C, almost all (92.3
percent) of the workers in Florida mailed a portion of their wages to
the islands at some point during their employment in the United States.
However, the proportion of the labor force that sent money to persons
other than the first recipient drops off sharply: 43.8 percent of the
workers sent money to a second recipient; only 8.8 percent to a third

These findings provide some insight into the relative priorities
that determine the amount, frequency and the destination of the wages
that are remitted to the islands by mail. The primary importance of the
immediate family is confirmed. Other, more distantly related

Table 18

Average Amount and Frequency of Money
By Category of Recipient

Mailed Home,

1 2 3 4

A. Average Amount Sent $71 $38 $32 $15

B. Average Frequency 7.1 5.1 4.8 3.3

C. % of Labor Force 92.3 43.8 8.8 1.6
N of Cases 232 110 22 4

D. Recipient (%)
Wife 53.0 5.7 4.1 ---
Girlfriend 23.8 25.0 13.3
Mother 15.5 38.5 -- --
Father 2.2 8.6 4.1
Son/Daughter .4 3.9 17.0 --
Sister/Brother 1.7 4.3 16.4 --
Friend .4 3.5 16.0 --
Other 2.5 10.5 29.1 ---
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0 ---

*Insufficient number of cases

individuals, are shown to be of secondary importance. More generally,
these results underscore the notion that the question of remittances is
not simply a matter of the magnitude of the resources that are
transferred. Analysis of this phenomenon must also account for the
complex social networks within which these transactions occur.

To what use is this money put? According to the individuals
interviewed in the survey, most of the wages mailed to the islands goes
to support their families. About three-quarters of the respondents (76
percent) said that the principal purpose of sending money home was to
cover daily household living expenses. The other most cited reasons
include child support (6.6 percent) and the schooling of children (6.1

A final objective is to estimate the total amount of money remitted
to the Caribbean via the mail. A rough approximation can be obtained by
multiplying (for each individual in the sample) the average amount of
money mailed by the frequency of sending mail orders. The sum of these
values across individuals in the study indicates that a total of
$141,643 was sent to the Caribbean by workers interviewed in our sample.
If we generalize from the sample to the total labor force, these
findings suggest that the sum of all mailed remittances amounted to
approximately $4,774,000. Of this total, about 77.8 percent (or
$3,709,000) was sent to Jamaica; 13.8 percent ($656,000) was mailed to
the small islands; and 8.5 percent ($404,000) was destined for Barbados.

c. Purchases

The desire to work in the United States for wages that exceed what
can be earned on the islands is unquestionably the principal factor that
motivates individuals to enter the H-2 labor force. A second reason is
the opportunity to purchase items which are then taken back to the
Caribbean at the end of the harvest. A substantial amount of money is
thus spent on goods to be taken home by cane cutters while they are in
the United States. The majority of these purchases take place in towns
that lie closest to the labor camps, although it is not unusual for
workers to travel to Palm Beach or to Miami for this purpose. It was in
response to this demand over the past 38 years that an entire business
district evolved in Belle Glade, Florida.

The analysis of the purchases made by the H-2 labor force while in
the United States can thus be seen in a double light. From the
standpoint of the merchants in south-central Florida the presence of
these workers constitutes a market for a variety of goods. On the other
hand, from the standpoint of the sending societies, the items bought
constitute a portion of the remittances that are sent back to the

The analysis of the workers' spending patterns involves at least
two dimensions: the value of the items that are purchased and the type
of things that are bought. The latter provides another indication of
the multiple ways in which the H-2 labor program influences sending

societies. For the purposes of this investigation a distinction can be
drawn between "capital goods" and "consumer goods." Capital goods can
be defined as the materials necessary for production, trade or commerce.
These items, which include tools and equipment, are assumed to enhance
the individual's productivity and his capacity to accumulate wealth back
on the islands. Capital goods can thus be distinguished from other
items which are consumed in order to maintain and to reproduce the
worker and his family (e.g., clothes, food), or which serve only to
elevate the quality of life (as through the "consumption" of televisions
or radios). On an aggregate level, widespread importation of capital
goods would presumably increase production, largely in agriculture and
thereby constitute a significant contribution to the sending islands'

The impact of the H-2 labor program on the Caribbean is thus
determined, in part at least, by the character of the consumption
patterns of the workers involved. The relative proportion of
expenditures allocated to capital or consumer items is one way to
conceptualize this process. If most purchases are for capital goods,
the remittances in kind are likely to have a greater economic impact on
the household's capacity to produce and to accumulate than would be the
case if consumer goods constitute the bulk of the individual's

The distribution of the principal purchases made in the United
States is presented in Table 19. The percentages indicate the
proportion of the total sample that purchased a given item. The
findings show that nearly all workers (97.4 percent) bought clothes and
personal items. About 60 percent acquired entertainment equipment such
as radios, tape players and televisions. Between 10 and 15 percent
spent their wages on food, general household goods and appliances. Only
a small proportion purchased tools (2.6 percent) and transportation
equipment (2.0 percent).

The spending patterns revealed in Table 19 indicate a clear
preference for consumer as opposed to capital goods. A closer
examination of these items, however, suggests that the distinction
between the two is potentially ambiguous. Of all of the items that
appear on the list of purchases only tools clearly fall into the
category of capital goods, as defined here. The accurate classification
of other items depends on how they are used. A motorcycle used only for
Sunday drives is quite different from one acquired for the purpose of
petty commerce and trade. Similarly, entertainment equipment may not
necessarily constitute a consumer good. Radios and televisions brought
back to the islands for sale in a shop could contribute to the
viability, even expansion, of a small retail business.

We have no way of knowing how a given item is actually used once
the worker returns to his place of residence. However, a follow-up
question in the survey did inquire as to the intended used of each item
that was bought by the individual. Responses to this question indicate
that the vast majority of the purchases were solely for personal and
household consumption. These findings are consistent with the intended
use of money mailed home, as shown in an earlier section. We therefore

Table 19

Items Purchased in the United States

Item Percent Purchasing Item

Clothes 97.4

Personal Items 97.4

Entertainment Equipment 59.4

Food/Household Goods 15.3

Appliances 10.5

Tools 2.6

Transportation Equipment 2.0

Furniture 0.8

NOTE: Personal items include: jewelry, consmetics, luggage
Entertainment equipment includes: radios, tape decks, stereos,
tapes, televisions, cameras
Food/Household goods include: food, sheets, mattresses,
plates, soap, kitchenware, curtains
Appliances include: mixers, stoves, refrigerators
Transportation equipment includes: bicycles, motorcycles

conclude that, despite the fact that the exact classification of
particular items may be ambiguous, the buying patterns of West Indian
workers emphasize consumer rather than capital goods.

A final consideration is the total (stateside) value of the items
that workers remit to the Caribbean. The sum of the amount of money
spent on purchases in the United States comes to $135,000 for those
individuals in the survey. To the extent that the workers interviewed
represent a random sample of the universe from which they were drawn
(see Appendix B), the spending patterns observed can be assumed to be
representative of all H-2 workers in the year of the survey.
Generalizing to the population of cane cutters in 1980-81 suggests that
the labor force as a whole spent approximately $4,551,000 on items that
were either sent or were carried back to the islands of origin.(20)

d. Cash in Hand

Compared to the other ways in which wages are remitted, the amount
carried back in cash is relatively small. The distributions shown in
Table 20 indicate that the vast majority (80.7 percent) carry $500 or
less on their return. Only 4.1 percent go back with more than $1,000 on
their person. The average amount, as shown in the lower panel, is $407.
For all individuals in the sample, the total sum of the money returned
in cash comes to $56,220. Using the same procedures applied in earlier
sections, this value, generalized to the labor force as a whole,
suggests that a total of approximately $1,895,000 was remitted in cash
to the Caribbean at the end of the harvest season. While small, this
particular remittance is of special significance to the worker, since it
is directly in his possession and is in the form of cash.

e. Remittances: Summary Tabulation

The analysis of the various forms by which resources are returned
to the islands, taken together, indicate that a total of about $19
million was remitted to the Caribbean during 1980-81 as a result of the
H-2 program. A summary of the respective amounts is as follows:

Savings Plan $7,764,000
Money orders 4,774,000
(value in USA) 4,551,000
Cash in hand 1,895,000

TOTAL $18,984,000

With regard to the accuracy of these estimates, it is important to
note several factors. First, it should be recalled that the figures are

Table 20

Amount of Money Remitted to the Islands in Cash

Amount carried in cash*

Percent of
Sample Remitting

A. 0 $205 31.4

$251 $500 49.3

$501 $1000 15.2

$1001 + 4.1

Total -100.0

B. Mean $407

Median $301

SD $332

* U.S. dollars

derived from self-reports by individual workers interviewed in Florida.
While the data are internally consistent, and appear to be free of
systematic bias, they are subject to error (as noted in the various
sections). Second, the sample size of 251 is relatively small thus
increasing the confidence interval around each estimated value. When
generalized to the labor force as a whole, the margin for error is
magnified. For these reasons, and others that could be mentioned, the
figures presented should be regarded, not as exact measurements, but
rather as rough approximations of the true values.

E. Savings, Investment and Productivity

1. Capital Accumulation

Conventional perspectives on labor mobility typically assume that
the migration of workers from less to more developed countries fosters
development at the place of origin. The mechanisms by which this is
presumed to occur are many. The remittances of migrant laborers are
viewed as instrumental in restoring a balance of payments, and in
stimulating savings and investment. Upon their return, repatriates
serve as agents of change by applying the ideas and the skills acquired
abroad to establish farms, businesses and other enterprises conducive to
increased production. By accelerating capital formation and technical
change on small peasant farms, migration is assumed to improve the
distribution of income in rural areas. According to the equilibrium
model, the international movement of labor thus leads to a gradual
convergence in the levels of economic growth and social well-being (see
Bohning, 1975; Rempell and Lobdell, 1978; Swanson, 1979).

Applied to the case of West Indian cane cutters, the perspective
outlined above predicts that the wages earned in the United States
provide the resources to start or to expand small businesses, or to buy
land and equipment so as to increase agricultural output and
productivity. While there is little doubt that this expectation is met
in the case of individual workers the central question is the degree to
which this phenomenon typifies the H-2 labor force. We have already
examined some evidence of the preference for consumer over capital
purchases, the results of which challenge the equilibrium model.

Further analysis of our survey data provides additional insight
into the questions raised above. At the outset, it is important to note
that the wages received harvesting sugar cane in the United States
substantially exceed the general wage levels in the Caribbean. In
Barbados and Jamaica the per capital income in 1980 was $2,685 and
$1,406, respectively. As noted in another section of this report, H-2

workers earned an average gross wage of about $4,000 during the 1980/81
season. But do these resources enable the worker to accumulate
sufficient productive assets to improve his income-generating capacity,
as the equilibrium model suggests?

A complete answer to this question would require a comparative
analysis with a control group of individuals who had never participated
in the program. Also required are indices that adequately reflect the
consequences of having had the experience of cutting cane in Florida.
Our data meet neither of these conditions. Nonetheless, a comparative
analysis within the sample of workers who were interviewed in the United
States provides a rough indication of the effects of the program. More
specifically, workers who have returned to harvest sugar cane more than
three seasons ("oldtimers") can be compared with "newcomers" (three
seasons or less). With the appropriate statistical controls for age and
other variables, we would expect oldtimers to have accumulated more
productive assets relative to newcomers.

A comparison of the workers who have returned to Florida for four
or more seasons with the rest of the labor force reveals few differences
between the two groups in terms of capital accumulation. This can be
seen, first, in the analysis of the number of acres that the worker owns
or has access to back home. As shown in column 2 of Table 21, the mean
size of farm for the sample as a whole is 2.3 acres. Using Multiple
Classification Analysis (MCA), it is possible to disaggregate the
effects of other variables. Specifically, do oldtimers own larger plots
of land compared to newcomers?

The figures shown in column 5 represent the deviation from the
grand mean (2.3) that is associated with the number of previous seasons
worked. Newcomers own an average of 2.16 acres (2.3 0.14= 2.16).
Oldtimers own 2.44 acres (2.3 + 0.14 = 2.44). We can conclude that the
differences between the two groups is relatively small, or about .3
acres. The deviations from the mean associated with island of origin
can be interpreted in the same way.

The figures shown in column 5, however, are unadjusted estimates.
That is, they do not account for the effects of other variables that
could influence the number of acres owned. The geophysical differences
between the islands are one set of factors that are important. Other
variables include the age and education of the respondent. It is
therefore necessary to estimate the deviations from the grand mean after
removing the possible effects of other independent variables (island of
origin) and covariates (age and education).

These findings are presented in column 6. Comparing the adjusted
(col. 6) with the unadjusted (col. 5) deviations from the mean reveals
very little change. We can conclude that, after controlling for other
key variables, newcomers and oldtimers own about the same amount of
land. Repeated participation in the H-2 labor program does not,
therefore, appear to lead to the accumulation of agricultural resources.

Using land ownership as an measure of capital accumulation is open

Table 21

Multiple Classification Analysis of the Effect of work
Experience on Land Ownership and Earnings

Dependent Grand Independent Deviation From the Mean
Variable Mean Variables N Unadjusted Adjusted1
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

A. Acres 2.3 SEASONS2

Newcomers 95 -0.14 -0.15

Oldtimers 96 0.14 0.14


Barbados 5 -1.50 -1.50

Jamaica 159 -0.03 -0.04

Small3 27 0.40 0.50

B. Pay4 253.4 SEASONS

Newcomers 105 -21.7 -28.5

Oldtimers 110 20.6 27.0


Barbados 13 21.6 10.0

Jamaica 174 -0.5 -0.1

Small 28 -6.4 -4.3

1 Controlling for independent variables (SEASONS, ISLANDS) and covariates
(age of respondent, level of primary education).


those who have worked three seasons or less
those who have worked more than three seasons

3 Includes: St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica

4 Net Pay for the fortnight prior to the interview

to question in the Caribbean where the forms of land tenure are often
quite complex. Similar analysis were therefore carried out using a
number of other variables assumed to reflect the individual's assets.
These included home ownership, and the number of goats, cows and mules
that were owned by the respondent. In all cases the results were the
same; few if any differences were found between newcomers and

To argue that participation in the H-2 program fails to enable
individuals to accumulate productive assets is not to say that the
opportunity to work in the United States is unimportant to them. To the
contrary, nearly 100 percent of those interviewed expressed the desire
to return the following season. The reasons are not hard to find. As
noted in previous sections, analysis of numerous variables in the survey
demonstrates the importance of stateside employment in the lives of
individuals, and for the households and the extended kin networks of
which they are a part. These data, and the statements by the workers
themselves, indicate that the opportunity to work in south Florida
provides critically needed resources to those who are fortunate enough
to enter the seasonal labor stream. But the findings provide little
support for the hypothesis that individuals who regularly return are
able to accumulate a greater degree of productive assets compared to
others. Together with other data (on expenditures, the use of
remittances and mail orders), these findings suggest that, rather than
serving as a source of investment capital, the wages earned harvesting
sugar cane in Florida are primarily devoted to the maintenance and the
reproduction of the worker and his household back in the Caribbean.

2. Productivity

Analysis of net wages earned the fortnight prior to the interview
indicates that previous experience harvesting sugar cane is associated
with greater worker productivity. As shown in column 5 of Table 21
(Panel B), newcomers earned about $22 below the grand mean; oldtimers
earned about $21 above it. This discrepancy widens after introducing
statistical controls for island of residence, age and education (compare
columns 5 and 6). Interpreting the adjusted deviations from the mean
(col. 6) we conclude that, net of controls, newcomers earned an average
of $225 and oldtimers about $280, a difference of $55.

These results are consistent with the analysis of other variables
that are related to worker productivity. The more experienced preferred
workers are less prone to injury (2.1 days per season vs. 5.9) and lose
fewer days on the job as a result of illness than do the less
experienced pool workers (1.5 vs. 2.4). These findings, taken together
with estimates of net earnings, suggest that individuals with extensive
previous experience are more skilled, less subject to accidents and
sickness, and are substantially more productive as compared to novices.
The system of migrant labor that has evolved (with its method of
selecting preferred workers from one season to the next) thus provides
the employers a continued supply of highly productive labor.

Table 22

Investment Strategies of BWI Workers
(Percent of respondents who plan to allocate earnings by category)

Investment Total Smaller
Category Sample Barbados Jamaica Islands

Housing 60.0 68.9 59.2 64.7

Farming 19.9 6.7 19.9 23.5

Livestock 27.9 4.4 30.5 17.6

Schooling 6.0 4.4 7.3 --

Living Expenses 10.4 13.3 9.7 12.7

Business 4.4 4.4 1.9 13.7

Personal Expenses 2.0 4.4 1.5 2.0

Savings 8.8 13.3 6.5 15.7

N of Cases 251 45 206 51

3. Investment Plans

Given the magnitude of the resources that are remitted to the
islands (see "Remittances"), it is important to investigate the ways in
which earnings are allocated at the place of origin. Respondents were
asked how they planned to spend the money they earned in the United
States once they returned home. This question refers primarily to the
income accumulated in the compulsory savings program and to the cash
taken back in hand. Utilization of these funds is another indication of
the importance of the H-2 program to the development of the five West
Indian Islands. The list of activities and items targeted for
investment were then collapsed into eight general categories. As shown
in Table 22, 60 percent of the respondents interviewed intended to apply
their resources to housing. This includes those who planned to build or
add on to an existing structure, as well as individuals who intend to
buy land or furnishings for a house. (Because each respondent could
specify more than one investment, the columns in the table add up to
more than 100 percent).

About 20 percent of the sample indicated that they wanted to buy
land to farm, or intended to purchase farm equipment, fertilizers, or
seeds. One in three planned to buy livestock. Just over ten percent
expected to use their money to cover living expenses. These patterns
differ somewhat by island, as shown in columns 2, 3 and 4. Livestock
and farm-related investments are more salient in Jamaica and the smaller
islands, but are less so in the case of Barbados. This pattern again
confirms the non-agricultural origins of the Barbadian workers.
Similarly the proportion of individuals who intended to allocate
earnings to business ventures and savings is higher in the smaller
islands compared to Jamaica and Barbados.

While there is some indication of investment of savings and cash in
hand in farming and livestock, the most prevalent category by far is
housing and living expenses. This pattern once again confirms the
importance of consumer and subsistence spending from income generated by
cutting cane.


The principal objective of this study has been to provide an
empirical profile of the West Indian laborers who seasonally migrates to
the United States to harvest sugar cane. In spite of the program's
nearly four decades of existence, little is known about either the labor
force or the impact of its seasonal migration on the participating
workers, their dependents, and the sending islands. To address some of
these issues, we administered a questionnaire to a random sample of 302
workers during March 1981, at the end of the 1980-81 harvest. In the
concluding section of this report, we summarize the principal findings
of this study. A more thorough discussion of the theoretical and policy
implications of the research must await subsequent analysis.

A. Principal Findings

From the analysis of the survey data we derive the following major
1. West Indian laborers have been recruited to cut sugar cane in
south Florida since 1943. The longstanding character of this
international arrangement implies that offshore workers are not a
transitory or cyclical part of the process of sugar production in the
state. Unlike other migratory streams, that may come and go in response
to different economic circumstances in the receiving area, the West
Indian labor force (although it does fluctuate in size from year to
year) can be considered to be an intrinsic feature of Florida's sugar
industry, at least as it is currently constituted. Policy decisions,
either to expand or limit the H-2 program, must take this into account.

2. Analysis of the survey results indicate that there are numerous
similarities between the workers that are recruited from Jamaica,
Barbados and the smaller islands (St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica).
At the same time the economies and geophysical characteristics of each
one are not identical. These dissimilarities are reflected in analysis
of several key items used in the questionnaire, such as the importance
of agricultural production and the occupational background of the
respondent. These findings suggest that that the H-2 labor force cannot
be regarded as a homogeneous entity, and policy decisions based on the
aggregate impact of the program on the sending societies must be
sensitive to this diversity.

3. With the exception of Barbados, the West Indian labor force is
recruited primarily from the rural areas of the Caribbean. In general
it can be said that workers have relatively low educational attainment,
and that they are drawn from a relatively stable population that is
characterized by low rates of intra and inter island migration.

4. For about two-thirds of the respondents, the primary occupation

given was that of farmer or farm worker. Within the category of
"primary occupation," the second most important jobs were those related
to the construction industry. In this regard Barbados is an exception
(a higher incidence of construction workers and a relatively lower
proportion of "farmers").

5. Over half of those interviewed also declared a second
occupation (mostly in farming or farm related activities and in
construction). These findings indicate that, although cane cutters do
have more than one job back on the islands, the range of occupational
backgrounds is relatively limited.

6. The characteristics of the H-2 labor force noted above should
be considered in light of the recruitment process that is carried out
every season. Studies of migration (both internal and international)
have noted the "positive" selectivity of migration streams (migrants
being better educated, or more "motivated" than non-migrants at the
place of origin). Such an empirical generalization, however, applies to
those population movements that are voluntary. In this instance,
however, the institutional mechanisms by which workers are chosen has a
marked impact on the "selectivity" of the pool of migrants. The
predominance of individuals with farming backgrounds, for example, is
the outcome of the criteria deliberately imposed by the employers. It
follows that accepted generalizations as to the characteristics of
migrants found in the literature on this topic do not necessarily apply
in this case.

7. Over a quarter of the H-2 workers own or have access to less
than one acre of land. The mean and median farm size are 2.2 and 1.5
acres, respectively. Average size of farm is much smaller among cane
cutters recruited from Barbados (0.8 acres), a finding consistent with
the results on occupational and farming background noted above.

8. In addition to the single farm unit, owned and operated by the
head of a nuclear family, there are many other formal and informal ways
by which individuals gain access to land. The family, and the broader
network of kin and friends, play an important role in the way land is
divided and cultivated. In terms of land tenure arrangements, analysis
of the survey data indicate that young men, early in the stage of family
formation and capital accumulation, show a greater dependence on family
networks (e.g., cultivating "family land") compared to older workers
(who tend to own their plots). These findings suggest that analyses of
the impact of remittances and other transfers to the islands by the H-2
labor force are likely to have different implications for men at
different points in their life cycle.

9. The absence of the worker because of migration to the United
States has repercussions within the individual's household. In terms of
tending agricultural plots, there is a reallocation of family labor.
For the most part, it is the immediate or extended family that fills in
for the departed worker. There is little direct evidence that
remittances are used to hire third parties.

10. Farming activities clearly play a critical role in the

sustenance of the worker's household. Between a third and a fourth of
the respondents indicated that all of their agricultural production was
devoted exclusively to their own consumption (this varies somewhat by
crop). This does not mean, however, that the entire H-2 labor force is
drawn from "subsistence" farmers. On the contrary, a substantial
portion market some or all of the foodstuffs produced. In this way it
can be said that those who come to cut sugar cane in the United States
also contribute to the production of foodstuffs for the island
populations through their agricultural activities (and that of family
members, as noted in 9 above).

11. Workers belong to households that, on the average (including
the respondent), contain just over 6 persons. Nearly half of the
members of the unit are under 15 years of age (most of whom are enrolled
in school). Few other members are employed outside of the household.
Taken together, these data indicate that seasonal migrants to the United
States contribute directly to the support of a substantial number of
people at the place of origin.

12. The principal reason that motivates individuals to seek
stateside jobs as cane cutters is that the wages earned in Florida
exceed that which can be earned in the Caribbean. A second reason is to
exploit the opportunity to come to the United States in order to
purchase items that are either unavailable on the islands, or which are
more expensive there.

13. Workers in the sample reported an average gross biweekly wage
of $420. This amounts to about $4,000 per season, from which numerous
deductions are made (some of which are returned to the worker when he
gets back to the island; see 14, below). The average net wage was $245
a fortnight.

14. Remittances to the place of origin are made in several ways.
The contract agreement stipulates that 23 percent of the worker's pay is
automatically transferred to a bank account in the worker's home island,
where all or some (depending on the island) can be later retrieved in
local currency. Workers on their own initiative also mail substantial
amounts of money to family members and friends. They also purchase
clothes and other items. Finally, at the end of the season, each
individual returns to the Caribbean with a certain amount of cash in
hand. Extrapolating from the sample to the total population of workers
in 1980-81, we estimate that the West Indian work force remitted nearly
$19 million (including the U.S. value of goods purchased) to the sending

15. The primary recipients of mailed remittances are wives,
girlfriends and mothers. Others, such as sons and daughters, sisters
and brothers, assume importance as secondary recipients. These results
underscore the point that the question of remittances is not simply a
matter of the magnitude of the transfers involved. Analysis confirms the
importance of the complex social networks within which these
transactions occur.

16. About $4.5 million is spent by the labor force on purchases

that are returned to the island. Analyses of these spending patterns,
together with other information on the destination and purpose of mailed
remittances, indicate that the wages earned in the United States are
used primarily for the maintenance and the reproduction of the worker's
household. Although a small percentage of the work force does invest in
capital goods, the majority of the the purchases and remittances are for
consumption purposes.

17. After statistically controlling for key variables (age,
education, island), the results indicate that repeated participation in
the H-2 labor program does not appear to lead to the accumulation of
productive resources (as measured by land and other assets) by the
individuals involved.

18. Analysis of the net wages indicate that those individuals who
have repeatedly come to Florida to cut cane are systematically more
productive than novices. Their wages exceed that of newcomers to the
program, and they are relatively less prone to injury and to sickness.
The method used by employers to select preferred workers from one season
to the next (60 percent of the labor force in 1980-81) thus appears to
provide the industry with a skilled and productive labor force.

B. Discussion

The international seasonal transfer of labor analyzed in this
report brings a selected group of men from five West Indian islands to
the United States where they are able to earn wages in excess of those
available locally. There are three direct beneficiaries of the program.
First, it benefits the participating workers and their dependents.
Given the persistence of poverty and widespread unemployment in rural
areas of the West Indies, there can be little doubt that these men and
their households are better off because of the opportunity to cut sugar
cane in Florida. It allows them to earn a steady income for at least
five months of the year and to save a proportion for use at home. It
also opens up the possibility of purchasing consumer goods which not
only ensures household survival but also enhances the quality of life of
its members. A second major immediate beneficiary is the worker's home
island. Through a mandatory savings plan and mailed remittances,
substantial amounts of hard currency are yearly infused into economies
suffering from chronic balance of payments and foreign exchange
deficits. Finally, the Florida sugar industry benefits from the H-2
program. For the past 38 years it has regularly recruited a highly
skilled, motivated seasonal work force for an industry which depends, in
part, because of ecological constraints, on manual harvesting of its
crop. The implications of the H-2 program in Florida sugar, for the
long run development of both the participants and the West Indies are
less clear, however. Although our data are not complete on this matter,
they do suggest that the investment in income-generating and
development-fostering activities by the workers and their governments
from the seasonal labor opportunity is rather limited. Explanations for
these consequences, if they do indeed exist, await more systematic,
theoretical analysis.

Appendix A

Selected Indicators of Five Sending Countries



St. Lucia

St. Vincent


(Sq. km) 11,424 431 616 389 750

(1981) 2,225,000 256,000 124,000 116,000 79,000

Growth Rate
(Annual Average) 1.6% 0.4% 2.0% 2.3% 1.2%

Birth Rate
(per 1000) n.a. 17.2 31.5 32.2 21.8

(per km ) 585 201 298 105

Adult Literacy 86% 98% 80% 95% 80%

GNP $2,936.0 mil $511.2 mil $ 99.2 mil $ 50.3 mil $36.9 mil
(Year) (1980 GDP) (1978) (1979) (1979) (1978)

GNP Growth
Rate (1978) -3.5% 5.1% 4.3% 14.6% 3.9%

Per Capita
GNP $ 1,352 $ 2,010 $ 790 $ 485 $ 459

Exports $ 979 mil $349.5 mil $ 65.6 mil $ 27.3 mil $ 9.4 mil

Imports $ 1,129 mil $372.7 mil $105.4 mil $ 52.4 mil $39.4 mil

Balance in
Account $ -275 mil $ -4.7 mil $-31.6 mil $ -16.0 mil -$14.1 mil

External Debt n.a. $ 61.7 mil $ 13.8 mil $ 7.8 mil $12.1 mil

Debt Service
Ratio n.a. 2.9% 0.9% 9.8% 3.6%

Rate 31% 15% 13% 20% 23%

1980-81 H-2
Sugar Quota 6954 508 389 567 42

Source: Caribbean/Central American Action. C/CAA's Caribbean Databook.
Washington, D.C.: Caribbean/Central American Action, 1981.
All currency figures in U.S. dollars.

Appendix B


The number of H-2 workers involved in harvesting sugar cane in
Florida fluctuates during the season. At the height of the 1980-81
season about 8,460 West Indians were employed. The vast majority (82.2
percent) were from Jamaica, with the remainder from Barbados (6.0
percent), St. Lucia (4.6 percent), St. Vincent (6.7 percent), and
Dominica (0.5 percent). In March, 1981, at the end of the harvest, a
sample of men was drawn from the total remaining population of 4,410
workers. Since the distribution of this labor force by place of origin
was known from existing industry records, a quota system was employed to
generate a representative sample of the universe of workers.
Individuals to be interviewed were chosen from the roster of people
living in each labor camp such that the number from the five islands was
proportional to each island's weight in the total mid-March population.
This procedure generated a total of 251 cases. The composition of the
work force by island in mid-March did not differ significantly from that
during the rest of the season. The reduction in the number of workers
occurred just before our interviewing began as the harvest concluded on
some of the farms.

A representative sample of this size has a major drawback. If
Barbadians are only 6 percent of the universe, a sample of 251 cases
implies a total of only 15 individuals from this island. Similarly, the
absolute number from St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Dominica is also quite
low (12, 17,'and 1, respectively). The small number of cases restricts
the possibility of carrying out between-island comparisons. To allow
for this possibility, Barbadians and those from the smaller islands were
oversampled so as to have approximately 50 cases in each subgroup. The
total number of interviews carried out, therefore, was a representative
sample of the population (251), plus additional interviews with
individuals from the smaller islands, for a total of 302 cases. In the
analysis presented here the findings for the labor force as a whole are
derived from the random sample of 251 respondents. Comparative analyses
across islands make use of the total of 45 cases drawn from Barbados,
and the 51 cases from St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Dominica (collectively
referred to as "small islands").

Because of possible differences associated with such factors as
camp size and the company that the individual works for, the sample was
selected in such a way that it is representative of the distribution of
the population by size of living quarters and by employer. Using this
procedure, 17 percent of the sample was drawn from small camps (less
than 200 workers); 49 percent from the medium-sized camps (210 599);
and 34 percent from large housing units (600 plus).

To minimize the possibility of other biases, an effort was made to
select individuals from each camp on a random basis, using the camp
roster as the point of departure. This procedure was not always
successful. Because the interviews were conducted at the end of the

season, when the workers were preparing to leave the country, there were
instances in which the individuals selected from the roster could not be
located. Under these circumstances, respondents were chosen on an
availability basis, attempting, whenever possible, to make substitutions
randomly. The nature of the bias entailed in this process, if one
exists, is not known.

In addition to the logistical problems of finding specific
individuals, interviews carried out at the end of the harvest raises
other potential problems. By mid-March, when the survey was conducted,
cane cutters had been in the field three to five months. The work is
extremely arduous and often dangerous. Injuries are common, especially
among the less experienced workers. These conditions suggest that, by
interviewing late in the season, individuals who did not last out the
full harvest are not included. Cane cutters who are uncooperative, or
unproductive, or who are subject to severe illness or injury are sent
home. The possibility therefore exists that we have oversampled
individuals that may tend to be hardier, more productive and more highly
skilled. When generalizing from the sample to the population of H-2
workers, the effect of overrepresenting the "survivors" may be to
overestimate such things as net and gross earnings, or any other
variables systematically associated with length of stay.

The magnitude of this bias is proportional to how many individuals
are sent back early. Industry records suggest that, relative to the
size of the total labor force, the number is small. On the basis of
these considerations we conclude that there is the possibility of having
oversampled more proficient workers, but that the tendency-is minimal
and unlikely to significantly affect the results.

The problems associated with the fact that interviews were carried
out at the end of the harvest are offset by a number of advantages.
Much of the questionnaire, for example, is devoted to issues that
concern earnings, remittances (amount and frequency) and to plans the
individual may have to invest his earnings in his home country. Each of
these variables (and others that could be mentioned) are best captured
once the worker has completed the season and is about to return home.
Information as to remittances, for example, is retrospective in nature,
and can be obtained only after the respondent has been in the United
States for several months. Moreover, goods to be taken back to the
islands are typically bought, not at the beginning, but rather at the
end of the harvest. Thus, questionnaire items that deal with purchases
have greater reliability when the survey is carried out at this point in
the work cycle. Similarly, individuals, on the eve of their departure
from the United States, are especially cognizant of their future
investment plans back home, thus enhancing the quality of the
information on these topics.


1 The survey analyzed in this study was financed by a grant from
the National Institute of Child and Human Development (1
R01-HD-14277-01). The authors would also like to acknowledge the
support of the Center for Latin American Studies and the Department of
Sociology of the University of Florida. Two small grants from the
University of Florida allowed us to interview officials and a limited
number of workers in the West Indies in 1981 and 1982. We also
benefited from the assistance of numerous individuals and institutions
in the sugar industry and the West Indies and from the suggestions and
comments of colleagues. Most importantly, we must thank the 10 students
who served as our interviewers and the BWI workers who graciously
submitted to our interviews. We alone bear responsibility for the
content and analysis found in this report.

2 The immigration reform measure submitted by President Reagan
called for an experimental guest worker program that would allow up to
50,000 Mexicans per year for years to work on a temporary basis.
Although this proposal did not generate much support, other bills
pending before Congress provide for changes in current temporary worker
regulations (Rick Swartz, "Congressional Update: Immigration Bill? What
Immigration Bill? Forum 1, No. 1 (February 4, 1982):5.

3 Because of inclement weather (an extended drought and then a
severe freeze followed by abnormally warm temperatures), the 1981-82
harvest fell below that of the previous year and predictions that it
would yield another record (Florida's Sugar News 18JL 2. (Ma

4 The sugar industry, according to an interview with a FFVA
official (July 20, 1982), objects to this method for calculating the
adverse wage for cane cutters, since it is derived from studies of wage
rates for farm workers in the Florida fruit and vegetable industries
where one person's pay check is often the result of the combined labor
of his family. Therefore, it inflates the wage rate of an individual
worker. The industry has commissioned a study of the adverse wage rate.
Under the Reagan Administration's proposed budget cuts, reduced funding
for the Field Reports Service would apparently impair its efforts to
carry out adverse wage rate studies. For 1982-83 this may mean that the
previous year's rate will remain in effect.

5 With strong encouragement from Florida's Governor, industry
recruiters hired approximately 300 Cubans and Haitians to plant seed
cane and screened an additional 800 for possible later use. At this
point in August, 1980, INS froze approval for H-2 workers from the West
Indies. According to the Miami'Herald of August 16, 1980, (p. Ib), of
the 160 Cubans hired only 67 showed up for work, and they cut about
one-third as much cane as the offshore workers. Several hundred

Haitians did last through the entire season. This was not enough,
however, to fill industry needs, and so permission was granted to import
the BWI labor force.

6 Resentment of Jamaican domination was made explicit in numerous
interviews conducted with workers and government officials in Barbados,
St. Vincent, and St. Lucia in July, 1981 and 1982. Specific criticisms
were directed at Jamaican control of policy-making within the BWICLO,
the absence of liaison officers from the three smallest islands in the
Florida sugar camps, and extra transportation costs charged to workers
from these islands.

7 According to the Permanent Secretary for Labour (Interview, July
21, 1982), Barbados is less committed to maximizing the percentage of
pool workers. This position stems from the relatively high rate of job
abandonment among Barbadian pool workers, a development that led the
employers to cut (as they are free to do) the Barbadian quota for this
category of worker following the 1980-81 season. It was restored the
following season following a decline in the AWOL rate among Barbadian
pool workers. High rate of job desertion can be costly to the island
governments since they must post bond on all pool workers. Request
workers are bonded by their employers. Bond is forfeited if the worker
fails to return home.

8 Among the applicants one U.S. recruiter automatically rejected
were: tradesmen (because of the high cost of workmen's compensation
incurred in the event of injury cutting cane), masons (too
"muscle-bound"), and fishermen (chronic backaches) (Interview with FFVA
Recruiters, March 20, 1981). Critics charge that the recruiters select
the "most docile, dependent, and dependable" candidates (Petrow,

9 Among the procedures applied in the interview is what the workers
refer to as the "hand test." The recruiter examines the applicants'
hands, presumably to determine by the presence of calluses whether he is
accustomed to hard physical labor.

10 The Meranda Corporation of Miami acted as the growers agent in
these matters for many years. Beginning in 1982-83 this task will be
assumed by the FFVA. (Daily Gleaner, April 20, 1982).

11 The Barbadian Ministry of Labour Employment Exchange maintains a
registry of individuals seeking work. If the job-seeker wishes to be
considered for either the H-2 program in the U.S., or a similar program
in Canada, he so indicates on the Exchange form. These forms are
supposed to be renewed every month in order for the applicants' request
to remain active. Once industry employers determine the Barbadian quota
and notify the Ministry of how many they wish to interview, the latter
then conducts a prescreening from those on the active registry. In
1982-83, the industry notified the Ministry that it wished to interview
250 candidates for the pool. The Ministry then called in 350 applicants
from the registry, of which 270 reported. Twenty were screened out.
Industry ultimately selected 211 of the 250 for the pool. It is
anticipated that 185 workers will eventually be called. For 1982-83 the

requested worker quota from Barbados was 303.

12 Data from the Ministry of Labour in St. Lucia indicated that
stateside employment in the sugar industry generated $450,000 in foreign
exchange for this country during 1979-80.

13 According to the St. Lucian Labour Commissioner, the criteria
used to select workers for the pool are: 1) age (23-40 years old), 2)
experience cutting cane, 3) lack of current employment, 4) dependents,
and 5) physical fitness. Slots in the pool are allocated to districts
(which apparently coincide with parliamentary constituencies) by
population, rate of unemployment, and performance (Interview, July 29,
1981). A Member of Parliament from St. Vincent, where MPs monopolize
nominations for the pool, claimed that he chooses men on the basis of
"first come, first served," human considerations, and in marginal cases
on basis of political support (Interview, July 29, 1981). In 1982, this
procedure generated a pool of 600 applicants instead of the 300
requested by industry recruiters for St. Vincent; nevertheless, they
agreed to select from the entire 600, narrowing it down to 374 workers
in just several hours.

14 In the case of Barbadian workers, the additional amount of $192
in 1980-81 was advanced to them by the BWICLO (going) and their
government (returning). A similar arrangement existed for the St.
Lucians. However, the Dominicans and Vincentians must pay even more
($148 plus $192 for the latter) since they must be transported to either
St. Lucia or Barbados for the flight to Florida.

15 One of the major criticisms made of the task formula, both by
the workers and labour officials on the islands, is that it is difficult
to comprehend. This breeds suspicions among the workers who sometimes
claim they are being cheated.

16 Management is entitled to verify a worker's productivity. If he
fails to achieve the required minimum for three days, he can be sent
home for breach of contract. Breaching the contract, whether in this
manner, or by some other offense results in blacklisting the individual.
Recruiters come to the islands with a "blackbook" listing all
blacklisted workers. If an individual is listed in the book, he is
automatically excluded, according to BWI labor officials familiar with
recruiting practices. For their part, workers may try to circumvent
these checks by false identities.

17 For some reason the two percent BWICLO deduction is sent to the
islands converted to local currency then reconverted to U.S. dollars and
returned to the liaison office in Washington. The islands claim to lose
money on this double conversion.

18 The district is so dependent on the West Indian workers that
most stores close when the workers return home. Many of the merchants,
who are of Middle Eastern descendents, moved into Belle Glade over 10
years ago. Today they operate two city blocks of stores that cater to
the West Indian workers. Mulkey and Gordon (1979:25) estimate that
offshore workers spend from 30-50 percent of their wages locally, or

$6-10 million of a $20 million payroll for a multiplier impact on local
sales of $12-20 million. They, thus conclude that "...local spending by
offshore workers generates between 3.2 and 5.4 million dollars in income
for local residents."

19 In addition to the predominant practice of awarding an across
the board bonus of six percent of gross seasonal wages, other methods
included: (1) a sliding scale that awards a higher percentage bonus to
the more productive (and higher paid) workers (Atlantic Company); (20 a
flat bonus of $10 per week for each week with no absences (Cane
Contractors); and (3) a fixed dollar bonus for each worker (Sugar Cane
Harvesting). (Information provided by FFVA official, June 22, 1982).

20 Although they do not have precise figures for local spending of
the offshore workers, Mulkey and Gordon's (1979:25) estimate of $6-10
million (if we subtract expenditures for personal consumption) tends to
confirm our figure of $4.5 million spent in goods remitted to the

21 As noted in the text, the measure of capital accumulation used
here should be regarded only as approximate indicators. From the
standpoint of a human capital perspective the conclusions presented
should be qualified. From the analysis of the remittances, spending
patterns and investment strategies it is apparent income earned in the
United States is devoted to educating workers' children. By upgrading
the skills of the second generation, it can be argued that this
"investment" contributes, in the long run, to raising the
income-generating capacity of the household. A test of this hypothesis
turns on whether the offspring of H-2 workers actually achieve greater
educational attainment than the sons and daughters of the rural
population at large. Our date set does not contain sufficient
information for such an analysis.


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