Sunday, May 18, 2014

Bilog Savings: Two Explanatory Models

Whether there is any impact at all and in what direction this impact manifests has been discussed mostly under two themes.

First, the comparative theme argues that characteristics germane to “bilogness” predispose the migrant to decisions and actions that impact savings.  Vinogradova (2013), for example, theorizes a model of “precautionary savings” where the indeterminate tenure in a host country due to the perpetual threat of deportation impels bilogs to save more than those with legal status.    Vinogradova further stresses that, in the long term, the positive impact of “precautionary savings” does not translate to higher bilog savings given their lower average income levels and thus lesser employment frequency.

Coupling this tenure wildcard with what Coniglio et al (2009) called “skill waste” – essentially a situation of chronic underemployment – ultimately prevents bilogs from competing on level terms in the labor market.  Coniglio further points out that bilogs are structurally excluded from various institutions and organizations (such as banks and other finance organizations) that facilitate the savings process.

Second, the contextual theme highlights factors external to the migrant that conspire with “bilogness” to accentuate or minimize its impact to savings.  Byra et al (2013), for example, points to the asymmetric nature of labor market information that in fact causes higher-skilled bilogs to have a double handicap than lower-skilled bilogs in securing jobs commensurate with their skills.  Djajić et al (2013) discusses a model of informed entry into debt and its ensuing, pre-defined debt servicing terms by bilogs thru human smugglers, inevitably impacting overall consumption and thus savings patterns negatively.

The comparative and contextual themes are best viewed as complementary rather conceptually distinct expositions of bilog savings.  The latter theme goes further than the former, proposing the external milieu around the differing characteristics between bilogs and non-bilogs.  However, the contextual theme avoids a direct connection to bilog savings.  It neither argues for “bilogness” as its impetus or genesis nor does it claim to impact exclusively bilogs.   In other words, the asymmetric market information pre-exists or is independent of “bilogness” and non-bilogs also critically enter into debt to finance legal entries to host countries.  

The Comparative Theme establishes that bilogs – given their characteristics – save less than non-bilogs.  Will excising these characteristics of “bilogness” then level out savings levels with non-bilogs?  Stated differently:  is optimum savings wholly contingent on legal status?
The Contextual Theme establishes that bilogs navigate thru external conditions that ultimately bear down negatively on savings.  Can a counterbalancing or neutralizing effect be achieved by other external conditions, or is the effect persistently negative?

Thus, while these two themes help explain the outcome of bilog savings, they leave unanswered questions on the multiplicity of interfaces or constitution of “bilogness” within the social processes of human mobility.