Domestic workers of Honduran origin in the U.S.A: An approximation

Carlos Ayala Durán, Fundación Naturaleza El Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador.

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Scholars have pinpointed the importance of migrants in domestic occupations in regions around the globe, including the Middle East (GAMBURD, 2000), Germany (PALENGA-MÖLLENBECK, 2013), Canada (HSIUNG; NICHOL, 2010), and the United States (ARIZA, 2016; MURILLO, 2017; SALAZAR PARREÑAS, 2015). In the Americas, the U.S. remains a popular destination for Latin American women, despite the challenging conditions they may face, such as live-in employment, a lack of minimum wage, limited job mobility, and unpaid overtime. Higher salaries and the potential for permanent residency are major factors drawing women to domestic work in the U.S. (SALAZAR PARREÑAS, 2015).

Since the turn of the century, Central American women, including those from Honduras, have constituted approximately one-quarter of the overall workforce engaged in domestic occupations in the United States (ARIZA, 2016). In line with this trend, Honduran women residing in the U.S. often secure employment in low-skilled jobs such as food preparation, cleaning and maintenance, domestic work, and caregiving (MURILLO, 2017).

Despite the centrality of Latin American migration, including Honduras nationals, research targeting Honduras migrants in domestic work is scarce and often relies on ethnographic studies such as those presented by Molina (2015) and Schmalzbauer (2004). The literature lags behind in more comprehensive descriptions and characterizations of these populations, particularly those covering socio, economic or human rights aspects. 

Iron placed on an ironing board, with a white shirt just below. In the background, a blue backdrop stands out.

Imagem: Unsplash.

To address this gap, the article Domestic work and migration in the United States: a characterization of Honduran women aimed to characterize domestic workers of Honduran origin employed in the U.S. The study utilized public survey data collected by the United Nations Agency IOM, which has gathered information on diaspora populations. 

This organization has collected information on diaspora populations in the U.S. as those of Honduras (ORGANIZACIÓN INTERNACIONAL PARA LAS MIGRACIONES-OIM, 2019) and Salvadorian origin (OIM, 2022). To achieve this objective, Domestic Worker’s Convention (2011), the Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration (2006) and other rights approach law instruments were directly employed. This set of legal instruments advocates for decent labor, social protection, and working conditions, a minimum wage, equal treatment, and employee obligations. 

Firstly, a typology of surveyed occupations was created using the Standard Classification of Occupations 2008 (ISCO-08). This allowed for a direct comparison between women in domestic occupations and those in other occupations, regardless of gender. The purpose of this methodological choice was to emphasize and draw attention to this often-overlooked population.

Photograph of a person washing dishes, specifically focusing on a fork. In the image, only a part of their body is visible: the hand.

Imagem: Unsplash.

The chosen methodology paved the way to characterized women engaged in domestic work. When compared to all other occupations, Honduras migrants presented differences in terms of age (older) less possession of assets in the U.S., less savings / bank accounts and a significant lower income (more than eight hundred dollars per month). When performing a regression analysis (logistic) on domestic work participation, age (CI 0.92–2.63, p-value = 0.094), savings (CI 0.01–0.97, p-value = 0.047), Honduran bank account ownership (95% CI 0.88-71.05, p-value = 0.064), monthly income (CI 0.99–1.00, p-value = 0.096)., and social security coverage (CI 0.02–1.29, p-value = 0.086) were determining factors. 

In summary, when compared to all other occupations, Honduran migrants working in domestic occupations in the U.S. tend to be younger and possess bank accounts. However, they are less likely to enjoy social security and possess savings. 

Besides achieving the objecting and depicting key elements of Honduras migrants in domestic occupations, such a paper hopes to serve as an incentive to the ongoing discussion to improve domestic workers’ rights in the U.S. This might prove relevant considering the exacerbated fragile conditions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to these migrants. During these times, and despite being officially considered essential workers, domestic workers have effectively been treated as disposable (PANDEY; PARRENAS; SABIO, 2021), facing reduced salaries, enhanced food insecurity, and job loss (NATIONAL DOMESTIC WORKERS ALLIANCE – NDWA, 2020). 

Lastly, the paper hopes to support the discussion within the international community to spearhead the improvement of domestic workers’ labor conditions by promoting and overseeing existing international law instruments. In this regard, much is still to be done, as several international conventions have not been signed or ratified by major international actors such as the U.S., Canada, or the Gulf Countries. The lack of commitment from these and other countries is evident by the fact that only thirty-six countries have ratified the Domestic Workers Convention (International Labour Organization, 2023). 

Revista Brasileira de Estudos de População Special Week 2023


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MOLINA, R. Caring while missing children’s infancy: transnational mothering among Honduran women working in Greater Washington. Human Organization [online]. 2015, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 62-73 [viewed 01 December 2023]. Available from: 

MURILLO, I. Características sociodemográficas de las mujeres migrantes Hondureñas en Estados Unidos de América, período 2001-2013. Población y Desarrollo – Argonautas y Caminantes [online], vol. 12, pp. 53-63, 2017 [viewed 01 December 2023]. Available in:

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PALENGA-MÖLLENBECK, E. New maids – new butlers? Polish domestic workers in Germany and commodification of social reproductive work. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal [online]. 2013, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 557-574 [viewed 01 December 2023]. Available from: 

PANDEY, K., PARREÑAS, R. and SABIO, G. Essential and expendable: migrant domestic workers and the COVID-19 pandemic. American Behavioral Scientist [online]. 2021, vol. 65, no. 10, pp. 1287-1301 [01 December 2023]. Available from;  

SALAZAR PARREÑAS, R. Servants of globalization. Standford: Stanford University Press, 2015.

SCHMALZBAUER, L. Searching for wages and mothering from Afar: the case of Honduran transnational families. Journal of Marriage and Family [online]. 2004, vol. 66, no. 5, pp. 1317-1331 [viewed 01 December 2023]. Available from:

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Como citar este post [ISO 690/2010]:

DURÁN, C.A. Domestic workers of Honduran origin in the U.S.A: An approximation [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2023 [viewed ]. Available from:


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