Women are moving around the globe as never before. But for every female executive racking up frequent flier miles, there are multitudes of women whose journeys go unnoticed. Each year, millions leave Mexico, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, and other Third World countries to work in the homes, nurseries, and brothels of the First World. This broad-scale transfer of labor associated with women's traditional roles results in an odd displacement. In the new global calculus, the female energy that flows to wealthy countries is subtracted from poor ones, often to the detriment of the families left behind. The migrant nanny—or cleaning woman, nursing care attendant, maid—eases a "care deficit" in rich countries, while her absence creates one back home.
Confronting a range of topics, from the fate of Vietnamese mail-order brides to the importation of Mexican nannies in Los Angeles and the selling of Thai girls to Japanese brothels, a diverse and distinguished group of writers offers an unprecedented look at a world increasingly shaped by mass migration and economic exchange. Collected and introduced by best-selling authors Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Russell Hochschild, these fifteen essays reveal a new era in which the main goods extracted from the Third World are no longer natural resources and agricultural products, but female labor and love.