Dr Martin Ruhs

Profile details

Martin is currently at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, on long-term leave from Oxford University. His new email is Martin.Ruhs@EUI.eu

Website: www.migrationpolicycentre.eu/team/martin-ruhs


Martin Ruhs is Associate Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University, where he is also Director of Studies in Economics at the Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE) and Research Associate at the: Centre on Migration, Policy and Society; Department of Social Policy and Intervention; Department of Economics; and Blavatnik School of Government. He is a Fellow of Kellogg College.

Martin’s research focuses on the economics and politics of international labour migration, with a strong international comparative dimension. Recent books include The Price of Rights. Regulating International Labour Migration (Princeton University Press 2013; Winner of the 2014 Best Book Award, Migration and Citizenship Section, American Political Science Association) and Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy (Oxford University Press 2010, co-edited with B. Anderson). He is currently working on a research monograph on "multinational corporations, migrant labour and the nation state" (under contract with Princeton University Press); and a collaborative research project (with Joakim Palme and colleagues at Uppsala University) on "national institutions, social norms and the politics of free movement in the European Union", funded by Horizon2020.

Most of Martin’s work addresses key questions and dilemmas in public policy-making. Martin has provided policy analysis and advice for various national governments and international institutions including the International Labour Organisation (ILO); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); the European Commission; the OECD; and, most recently, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In 2008-09 he was Specialist Advisor to an inquiry by the Economic Affairs Committee of the House of Lords into the economic impacts of immigration. During 2009-12, he was director of Oxford University’s Migration Observatory. During 2007-14, Martin was a member of the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body of five academic economists tasked to advise the UK government on labour immigration policy. In 2016-17, he is co-editing (with Marie McAuliffe) the IOM's World Migration Report 2018. Martin has written for the New York TimesFinancial Times, Guardian and Irish Times.

For an overview of the impact of Martin's recent research on public debates and policy-making, see his Impact Case Study (4*) for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Martin runs a blog on international labour migration and the rights of migrant workers.


Martin is Director of Studies in Economics. He teaches graduate courses for the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG) and the MSc Migration Studies at the Department of International Development as well as an undergraduate course for the Duke in Oxford Summer School. Martin authored three online courses on "International Labour Migration: Economics, Politics and Ethics" , "Mixing It Up: Understanding and Using Mixed Methods in the Social Sciences", and "Globalisation" (with Jontahan Michie).

Work in progress / under review

Ruhs, M., Palme, J. et al. (2018-). Series of papers on national institutions and the politics of free movement in the European Union, part of the Reminder project, funded by Horizon2020 

Ruhs, M. "High-income countries and the global refugee crisis: Assessing alternative pathways to protection", Working Paper,  (publication expected in early 2018)

Ruhs, M., Palme, J. and K. Tamas (eds.) Bridging the gaps: Linking research to public debates and policy-making on migration and integration, Delmi (publication expected in early 2018)

Ruhs, M. 'Borders Inc.': Multinational Corporations, Migrant Labour and the Nation State, research monograph under contract with Princeton University Press (publication expected in 2020)


ORCID ID: orcid.org/0000-0001-6376-2414

Books and special issues

International Organization for Migration (2017), World Migration Report 2018, edited by Marie McAuliffe and Martin Ruhs. IOM: Geneva

Ruhs, M. (2013) The Price of Rights. Regulating International Labor Migration, Princeton University Press, [paperback in 2015] WINNER OF THE 2014 BEST BOOK AWARD, MIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP SECTION, AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENCE ASSOCIATION [labour immigration policy data (Stata file) and codebook] ] [book reviews]

Ruhs, M. and Anderson, B. eds. (2010) Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy, Oxford University Press. [paperback in 2012]

Anderson, B. and M. Ruhs eds. (2010) ‘Illegality in Labour Immigration: Concepts, Ethics and Policy Nexus’, Special Issue of Population, Space and Place 16 (3)

Mayhew, K. and M. Ruhs eds. (2008) ‘Labour Migration in Europe’, Special Issue of Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24(3)

Ruhs, M. (2005) Managing the Immigration and Employment of Non-EU Nationals in Ireland, Studies in Public Policy: 19 (“Blue Book”), The Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Academic journal articles

Ruhs, M. and J. Wadsworth (2017) "The impact of acquiring unrestricted work authorization on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants in the UK" , Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Early View (previous working paper here)

Ruhs, M. (2017) "The impact of acquiring EU status on the earnings of East European migrants in the UK: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment", British Journal of Industrial Relations, Early View (previous working paper here)

Ruhs, M. (2017) "Labour immigration policies in high-income countries: Variations across political regimes and varieties of capitalism", Journal of Legal Studies, forthcoming [Online Appendix] [labour immigration policy data (Stata file) and codebook]

Ruhs, M. (2017) "Free movement in the European Union: National institutions vs common policies?", International Migration, Early View (previous version here and related blog posts here and here)

Ruhs, M. (2017) “Rethinking International Legal Standards for the Protection of Migrant Workers: The Case for a ‘Core Rights’ Approach”, American Journal of International Law (AJIL) Unbound 111: 172-176

Ruhs, M. (2016) "The Rights of Migrant Workers: Economics, Politics and Ethics", International Labour Review, 155 (2): 281-296 (based on this working paper with different title)

Ruhs, M (2015) “Opening borders and protecting migrants: A response to Francisco Alba and David McKenzie”, part of “Review Symposium: The Price of Rights by Martin Ruhs”, Migration Studies, 3 (2): 301-305

Martin, P and M. Ruhs (2013) ‘Independent commissions and labour migration’, Migration Letters, 11 (1): 23-32

Ruhs, M. (2012) ‘The human rights of migrant workers: Why do so few countries care?’, American Behavioural Scientist, 56 (9):1277-93.

Anderson, B. and M. Ruhs (2012) ‘Reliance on Migrant Workers: Inevitability or Policy Choice?’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 20 (1): 23-30

Martin, P. and M. Ruhs (2011) ‘Labor Shortages and US Immigration Reform: Promises and Perils of an Independent Commission’, International Migration Review, 45 (1): 174-187

RuhsM. (2010) ‘Migrant Rights, Immigration Policy and Human Development’, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 11(2): 259-79

RuhsM. (2010) ‘Numbers vs Rights in Low-Skilled Labour Immigration Policy?’ A Comment on Cummins and Rodriguez’, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 11 (2): 305-9

Ruhs, M. and B. Anderson (2010) “Semi-compliance and illegality in migrant labour markets: An analysis of migrants, employers and the state in the UK”, Population, Space and Place, 16 (3), 195­-215

Anderson, B. and M. Ruhs (2010) “Researching illegality and labour migration”, Population, Space and Place, 16 (3), 175-79

Ruhs, M. (2008) ‘Economic Research and Labour Immigration Policy’, Oxford Review of Economic Policy 24(3): 1-29

Ruhs, M. and P. Martin (2008) ‘Numbers vs Rights: Trade-offs and Guest Worker Programs’, International Migration Review 42(1): 249-265

Ruhs, M. (2006) ‘The potential of temporary migration programmes in future international migration policy’, International Labour Review 145 (1-2)

Ruhs, M. and H.-J. Chang (2004) 'The Ethics of Labor Immigration Policy’, International Organization 58 (1): 69-102 [reprinted in: Geddes, A. ed. (2011) International Migration, Sage; and in Baldwin, D. ed. (2012) Key Concepts in the New Global Economy, Edward Elgar]

Academic book chapters

Ruhs, M. (2016) "Protecting the rights of temporary migrant workers: Ideals versus reality", in Temporary labour migration in the global era: The regulatory challenges, edited by J. Howe and R. Owens, Hart Publishing

Ruhs, M. (2016) 'Theorizing labour immigration policies: Openness, skills and rights', in Handbook on Migration and Social Policy, edited by G. Freeman and N. Mirilovic, Edward Elgar.

Ruhs, M (2014) “Immigration and Labour Market Protectionism: Protecting Local Workers' Preferential Access to the National Labour Market”, in Migrants at Work: Immigration and Vulnerability in Labour Law, edited by Cathryn Costello and Mark Freedland, Oxford University Press

Ruhs, M. and Anderson B. (2013) 'Responding to Employers: Skills, Shortages and Sensible Immigration Policy', in Jurado, E. and Brochmann, G. (Eds), Europe's Immigration Challenge: Reconciling Work, Welfare and Mobility. I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd

Anderson, B., Rogaly, B. and M. Ruhs (2012) ‘Chasing Ghosts: Researching Illegality in Migrant Labour Markets’, in Handbook of Research Methods in Migration, edited by Carlos Vargas Silva, Edward Elgar

Anderson, B. and Ruhs, M. (2010) “Migrant workers: who needs them? A framework for the analysis of shortages, immigration and public policy”, Chapter 2 in Ruhs and Anderson eds (2010) Who needs migrant workers?, OUP

Research and policy reports

Ruhs, M. (2017) "Protecting Migrant Workers: The Case for  a Core Rights Approach", in McAuliffe, M. and M. Klein Solomon, eds. (2017) Migration Research Leaders’ Syndicate: Ideas to Inform International Cooperation on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, IOM: Geneva

Ruhs, M. (2017) "National Identity and the Goals of Immigration Policies", in  Who Are You? States & the Quest for Identity, edited by Peter Webinger and Alexander Schabasi, Ecomedia

Dumont, J-C., Baldinelli, G., Black, R. and M. Ruhs (2016) "International migration following environmental and geopolitical shocks: How can OECD countries respond?" chapter 4 in International Migration Outlook 2016, OECD

Ruhs, M. (2016) ‘Preparing for increased labour mobility in ASEAN: Labour markets, immigration policies and migrant rights’, International Organization for Migration, Bangkok

Ruhs, M (2014) 'Rethinking Migrant Rights', chapter 2 in Rethinking the Attractiveness of EU Labour Immigration Policies, edited by Sergio Carrera, Elspeth Guild and Katharine Eisele, Centre for European Policy Studies, Brussels.

Ruhs, M. and N. Van Hear (Nov 2014) “Irregular migration as a response to geopolitical shocks: The long-term effects of short-term policies”, European University Institute, Working Paper

Ruhs, M. (2013) 'Towards a post-2015 development agenda: What role for migrant rights and international labour migration?', Background Paper for the European Report on Development 2013, ODI, DIE and ECPDM.

Ruhs, M. and Anderson, B. (2013) ‘Migrant Workers: Inevitability or Policy Choice?’ in Making Migration Work. The future of labour migration in the European Union edited by Jan Willem Holtslag, Monique Kremer and Erik Schrijvers, Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WRR) – also available in Dutch.

Ruhs, M. (2012) 'EU enlargement and labour immigration: The UK experience' in  Labour Migration: What's in it for us? Experiences from Sweden, the UK and Poland edited by Karin Zelano, FORES, Stockholm

Ruhs, M. (2011) "The role of an independent expert commission in future EU labour immigration policy", in Karlsson, J. and L. Pellig eds. (2011) Moving Beyond Demographics: Perspectives for a Common European Migration Policy, Global Utmaning ("Global Challenge"), Stockholm

Blinder, S., Ruhs, M. and C. Vargas-Silva (2011) ‘Thinking behind the numbers: Understanding public attitudes to immigration in Britain’, The Migration Observatory, Oxford University

Blinder, S., Ruhs, M. and C. Vargas-Silva (2011) ‘The top ten problems in the evidence base for public debate and policy-making on immigration in the UK’, The Migration Observatory, Oxford University

Ruhs, M. (2011) 'The labour market effects of immigration: What do we know?, The Migration Observatory, Oxford University

Anderson, B. and M. Ruhs (2008) ‘A need for migrant labour? The micro-level determinants of staff shortages and implications for a skills based immigration policy’, A paper prepared for the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), London

Ruhs, M. (2007) ‘Greasing the wheels of the flexible labour market: East European labour immigration in the UK’, in Labor Mobility in Europe, Center for European Policy Analysis, Washington DC.

Spencer, S., Ruhs, M., Anderson, B. and B. Rogaly (2007) Migrants’ lives beyond the workplace: The experiences of East and Central Europeans in the UK, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, London

Anderson, B., Ruhs, M., Rogaly, B. and S. Spencer (2006) Fair enough? Central and East European migrants in low-wage employment in the UK, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, London

Ruhs, M. (2006) ‘Current policy framework’ (ch 3) and ‘Labour market policy considerations’ (ch 7) in NESC (2006) Managing Migration in Ireland: A Social and Economic AnalysisResearch Report 116.

Ruhs, M. (2005) ‘Designing viable and ethical labour immigration policies’, in World Migration 2005, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva

Godfrey, M., Ruhs, M, Shah, N. and M. Smith (2004) ‘Migrant Domestic Workers in Kuwait: Findings Based on a Field Survey and Additional Research’, in Gender and Migration in Arab States: The Case of Domestic Workers, ed. By S. Esim and M. Smith (Beirut: ILO, June 2004)

Ruhs, M. (2003) ‘Temporary Foreign Worker Programmes: Policies, Adverse Consequences, and the Need to Make Them Work’,Perspectives on Labour Migration 6, International Migration Branch, International Labour Office (ILO), Geneva

Ruhs, M. (2003) ‘Emerging Trends and Patterns in the Immigration and Employment of Non-EU Nationals in Ireland: What the Data Reveal’, Policy Institute Working Paper No. 6, The Policy Institute, Trinity College Dublin

Godfrey, M. and M. Ruhs (2002) ‘Migrant Workers in Kuwait: A Review of the Recruitment System in an International Context’, Report for the ILO, GenevaRuhs, M. and N. (major unpublished report for the ILO)

Ruhs, M., Rattandilok, N. and N. Poapongsakorn (1999) ‘Pesticide Use in Thai Agriculture: Problems and Policies’, Pesticide Policy Project Publication Series No. 7, GTZ, Hannover

Ruhs, M., Tangitwisuth, S. and N. Poapongsakorn (1998) ‘Problems and Outlook of Agriculture in Thailand’, Thailand Development Research Institute Quarterly Review 13(2): 3-14

Selected blog posts 

(more posts available at www.priceofrights.com )

'Migrants', 'mobile citizens' and the borders of exclusion in the European Union (Nov 2016)

Reforming free movement: Does the UK have a point? (Dec 2015)

The case for a global migrant rights database (Nov 2014)

Three questions for better immigration debates (July 2014)

Ten features of labour immigration policies in high-income countries (Jan 2014)

Less is more when it comes to migrant rights (Oct 2013)


My work contributed to three 'impact case studies' submitted to the UK's Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014:

 ‘Regulating labour immigration: Labour markets, welfare states and public policy’ – I was the lead researcher of this case study

Transforming the collection, presentation, and use of data in the UK migration policy debate

Developing international responses to trafficking and the demand for low-waged (migrant) labour