The maid trade: Cross-border work in South Texas

Michael J. Pisani, David W. Yoskowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective. The primary objective of this article is to investigate the "informal" marketplace for domestic servants (maids) in a border community in South Texas (Laredo). Methods. A questionnaire was administered by a household member familiar with the present study who employed at least one maid utilizing the snowball method of sample selection. Usable data (surveys) were collected from 389 individuals - 195 maids and 194 employers. Results. For maids, who are overwhelmingly female Mexican nationals, the primary determinant or "push" factor in becoming a maid was economic necessity while the primary "pull" factor was good pay. A large hourly wage differential was uncovered for day maids ($3.44) vis-à-vis live-in maids ($2.61), which was primarily the result of civil status and the possession of documents permitting entry into the United States as determined by a logistic regression. Conclusion. The relative attractiveness of work as a maid in Laredo, Texas reflects the benefit of good pay balanced by the cost of poor employment choice in Mexico.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)568-579
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2002


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