Interaction of formal and informal institutions: The case of low -wage labor migration from Kyrgyzstan to the United States
This dissertation examines the interaction between formal and informal institutions in the process of migration from Kyrgyzstan to the United States for low-wage labor. More specifically, it demonstrates how formal and informal institutions interact in the process of irregular labor migration and how informal institutions influence the implementation of immigration policy of the United States. Focusing on countries of origin and destination, this study explains how the process of illegal labor migration from Kyrgyzstan to the United States works and what formal and informal institutions are involved in this process. This dissertation illuminates what happens when institutions in developing and developed countries interact with each other and how such transnational interactions influence formal institutional outcomes. This project embraces a case study research method relying on multiple data sources, including in-depth interviews with low-wage Kyrgyz labor migrants in the United States, migration intermediaries, Kyrgyz migration officials and policy makers, U.S. consular personnel in Kyrgyzstan, and analysis of migration laws and regulations of the United States and Kyrgyzstan. This study argues that formal and informal institutions involved in the process of labor migration from Kyrgyzstan to the United States interact in three principal ways that have distinct effects on formal institutional outcomes. This dissertation facilitates a better understanding of the role of informal institutions as one of the determining factors in the success or failure of public policies. It also brings a comparative transnational perspective into the institutionalism research. Finally, this dissertation addresses a major gap in migration literature by presenting the first study of irregular labor migration from the former Soviet Union the United States.