Third Annual REALM Meeting Takes Place in Abu Dhabi

The leaders of Realm

The leaders of Realm


This past weekend brought about the third annual meeting for INCITE’S Research & Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project. The meetings, previously convened in March and November of 2017, involve all Principle Investigators (PIs) who receive funding through REALM, and serve as a vital component of this ambitious research initiative. By uniting researchers from a diversity of disciplines and institutions, these conversations are crucial to enabling collaboration and comparison across REALM’s network of projects.   

Over the course of the two-day gathering on NYU Abu Dhabi’s campus, PIs shared project updates, initial findings and research experiences. Highlights included Bilesha Weeraratne discussing her work with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Labor to shape more transparent recruitment processes; Caroline Oselia sharing fieldnotes from her recent fieldwork in Kerala, India; and Daniel Karell demonstrating the mobile-based app he used to survey respondents in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

“It’s been rewarding to see PIs develop collaborations with each other over the years. A demographer working in Bangladesh can draw on the insights of an anthropologist working in Kerala; the Sudanese government can reshape its data system by working with researchers in the Philippines. REALM structures a truly interdisciplinary, international exchange.“
- Peter Bearman, Principal Investigator

A final REALM meeting is anticipated for June 2020, at which point REALM PIs will be prepared to share the final findings from their project. 

Publication | Patterned Remittances Enhance Women's Health-Related Autonomy


Authors: Sharon H Green, Charlotte Wang, Swethaa S Ballakrishnen, Hannah Brueckner, Peter Bearman

INCITE has published results from a research study analyzing how the timing of remittances received by women in migrant-sending countries impacts women’s health and autonomy. Focusing on a sample of respondents in the Indian state of Kerala, primary findings reveal that the benefits of remittances for women’s autonomy manifest more through the regularity and frequency with which they are received, than the amount of money remitted.

These conclusions indicate the need to look beyond questions of amount when studying the impact of remittances. They also suggest that very simple changes, which enable migrants to send funds back home more regularly, can make a difference in the lives of women and children left behind. “With regular remittances, even of small amounts of money, women are able to plan, and this planning capacity translates into greater autonomy over their health care decisions,” notes Charlotte Wang, INCITE’s Director of Research, who co-authored the paper. “Right now, though, migrants pay a fixed fee each time they send money home, and this incentivizes them to limit the number of times they remit funds. If fees were associated with amount, rather than frequency, remittances would likely be more frequent.”

The research was conducted as part of INCITE’s Research & Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration Program (REALM), which centers on the social structures and dynamics of labor migration in the Persian Gulf region, with particular attention to processes taking place in migrant-sending countries. 

Read the full paper, published in Social Science and Medicine: Population Health, here.

REALM to Host March, 2019 Workshop at NYU Abu Dhabi for Principal Investigators


The Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) workshop in March, 2019 will be for REALM principal investigators to share progress on research projects, discuss initial findings, and conceive opportunities for collaboration. It will be our third such workshop, and will be held in Abu Dhabi as it has been in past years.

We look forward to the discussion and collaboration that the workshop will bring! For more information on these specific studies and others, please see our current projects page.

REALM Studies Present at NYU Abu Dhabi 2018 Research Conference

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The New York University (NYU) Abu Dhabi Research Conference aims to highlight the role NYU Abu Dhabi has played and continues to play in establishing itself as a hub for education, scholarship, and advanced research in Abu Dhabi. The conference will include a Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) panel, during which Daniel Karell, Rabia Malik, Hannah Brueckner, and Susan Godlonton will present their work on REALM projects.

If you're in the region and interested in attending, please register for this event by October 30, 2018. We look forward to seeing you there!

Postdoctoral Research Scholars Join INCITE

INCITE will be joined this fall by three postdoctoral research scholars. They will contribute to research efforts for the Measuring Liberal Arts Education Project and the Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) pgoram, to work on a variety of projects as well as to continue developing their own research. We are excited for them to join us!

Postdoctoral Research Scholars

Chad Borkenhagen is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar on the Measuring the Liberal Arts project at INCITE. He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago, and his research employs both qualitative and computational methods to explore the relationship between knowledge, culture, and organizational fields. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including Social ForcesSocial Studies of Science, and Poetics.

Siqi Han is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar on the Measuring the Liberal Arts project at INCITE. She received her PhD in Sociology from The Ohio State University, and her research agenda examines class inequality in education and in the transition to adulthood. This research agenda is motivated by a theoretical interest in the economic and non-economic impacts of education over the life course. Her recent projects looked at the incentives and disincentives for pursuing a degree in STEM, the differences in transition to adulthood by college field of study, and the reward structure for non-cognitive skills in high school. These projects appeared in Journal of Marriage and FamilySocial Science ResearchDemographic Research, and other academic journals. 

Anna Lunn is Postdoctoral Research Scholar working on INCITE’s Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration project. She received a PhD in Sociology from Stanford University, and her research focuses on the social dimensions of individual and household economic decision-making in both India and the United States. She is particularly interested in how physical and social spaces shape the interpersonal exchanges around material goods. Her research combines qualitative interviews, statistical analysis and social network analysis. Her research has been supported by National Science Foundation (NSF), Stanford Center for International Development (SCID), and Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED). She is a former DHAsia/Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Her work has appeared in Sociological Perspetives and Socio-Economic Review.

REALM PIs Present at IFMS 2018 Conference


Principal Investigators that are a part of INCITE’s Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project presented at the OECD’s International Forum on Migration Statistics as part of a panel, entitled “Pioneering Approaches for Data collection on Mobile Populations: Migrant Flows and Recruitment Pathways to the GCC.”

Organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the inaugural International Forum on Migration Statistics 2018 Conference brought together 500 participants from 90 countries, including government representatives, researchers, and civil society and private sector leaders. Participants presented on and discussed statistical research and policy on labor migration.

Chaired by INCITE’s Charlotte Wang, the panel included several REALM investigators presenting on the innovative methods they are using to improve statistical research on temporary migration. The participants and presentations are as follows:

“Pairing Administrative Datasets with Google Trends to Infer Migrant Flows and Sending Country Impacts”
Susan Godlonton, Williams College, Department of Economics

“Using Mobile Phone Technology to Study Migrant Recruitment Processes in Pakistan”
Rabia Malik, New York University in Abu Dhabi, Department of Political Science

"A Large-Scale Survey of International Migrants from a Rural Area of Bangladesh”
Randall Kuhn, University of California Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health

“Tracing Informal Recruitment Relationships through Panel Surveys on Migrants”
Bilesha Weeraratne, Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka

For more information on these specific studies and others, please see our current projects page.  Thanks to everyone who participated in this important conference!

REALM Funds Three New Projects on Labor Migration

Building the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Building the Louvre in Abu Dhabi, UAE

The Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project is proud to announce the launch of three new funded projects this fall, located in India, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and SudanREALM aims to fund collaborative research that will advance our understanding of low skilled labor migration to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with the objective of shedding light on the processes that sustain unfair practices in migrant labor. 

Each of these studies asks questions important for understanding the dynamics of labor migration. “A Panel Study of Migration from South India” adds a 2018 wave of survey data to the Kerala Migration Study, building on past waves of a longitudinal household study in Kerala, India, and includes rich information about the lives and finances of migrant families. Sajida Ally’s “Sri Lankan Migrant Workers in Kuwait and their Entitlements to Healthcare” uses ethnographic field research to understand how international labor brokerage networks mediate the structure and process of healthcare entitlement in Kuwait. Finally, Osman Nour’s project on Sudanese labor migrants seeks to uncover the consequences of new Saudi financial policies towards Sudanese migrants, their dependents, and the Sudanese economy as a whole.

We look forward to seeing what these innovative studies will bring to conversations on labor migration! For more information on these specific studies and others, please see our current projects page.


INCITE announces first 12 REALM-funded projects on labor migration, releases new RFA

The Research and Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project launched twelve funded projects this fall, located in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and the UAE. REALM aims to fund collaborative research that will advance our understanding of low skilled labor migration to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, with the objective of shedding light on the processes that sustain unfair practices in migrant labor.  The projects in this first funding phase represent significant gains in understanding the dynamics of labor migration. These include migration decisions, recruitment and obligations, migrant well-being, and the immediate effects of migration on sending country communities. 

REALM is now accepting letters of intent for a second round of funding, beginning in September 2017. The Request for Applications can be found here.

INCITE's REALM project releases its Request for Applications

After hosting three meetings that convened migration researchers from all over the world, INCITE's Research on Empirical Analysis of Labor Migration (REALM) project released its Request for Applications on March 15, 2016. The REALM team looks forward to reading proposals as they come in on June 15.


REALM will fund a series of substantively interlinked projects that share a data and administrative core. REALM aims to shed light on the processes that sustain unfair migrant labor by improving our empirical understanding of the structures and dynamics implicated in recruitment for temporary work in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. While the focus is on sending countries, our analytical scope is expansive, ranging from individual motivations and expectations to meso-level processes of job matching and recruitment, and to the broader dynamics of labor supply and demand. Our goals are to review and collate existing knowledge, identify key empirical questions for further study, and support collaborative research that will advance our understanding of labor migration processes. In particular, we look to innovative ways to build data structures that can provide the foundation for robust, substantive and empirically grounded insights.

For more information, visit the project page.