Labor Movement and State Fragility: The Case of the Yemen Arab Republic from Oil Boom to Gulf War
Date of Submission
Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
Professor Jennifer Taw
© 2018 David White
This thesis deals indirectly with the current crisis in Yemen by focusing on a period in the Yemen Arab Republic’s (YAR) history from the increased price of oil in 1973 to the outbreak of the Gulf war in 1990. I present the YAR during this period as a case study in labor exportation through which the state was made more vulnerable and was left unable to cope with the collapse of its remittance system. Labor emigration and remittance receipt prior to the Gulf war, in addition to fueling bureaucratic corruption in the YAR, enabled destructive change within the agricultural sector, inflation, national import dependency, and unsustainable urbanization – these structural weaknesses were temporarily masked by Yemen’s labor exportation and by a sustained flow of remittance funding. In 1990 expatriate worker remittances collapsed abruptly as a source of capital, with over a million Yemenis suddenly repatriated. The cases of Mexican and Filipino national labor emigration illuminate the absence of diversity in Yemenis’ immigration destination and the absence of any central orchestration on behalf of the state, in addition to the inability of remittance money to remain within local communities. The period of labor exportation left Yemen with structural fragilities that continue to be the core conditions gripping what today resembles a failed state. Currently Yemen is home to a complex network of actors in violent competition for central authority – yet any government that comes to exist in Yemen must ultimately consider the YAR’s experience with labor exportation from the early 1970s through 1990 as a basis from which to fully understand the underlying weaknesses of the state.
White, David, "Labor Movement and State Fragility: The Case of the Yemen Arab Republic from Oil Boom to Gulf War" (2018). CMC Senior Theses. 1838.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.