Study Description

Migrant Farm Workers in Wisconsin, 1978 and 1989

The definition of "migrant worker" used for the surveys is one set forth in Wisconsin statues (ch. 17, laws of 1977):

...any person who temporarily leaves a principal place of residence outside of this state and comes to this state for not more than 10 months in a year to accept seasonal employment in the planting, cultivating, harvesting, handling, drying, packing, packaging, processing, freezing, grading, or storing of fruits and vegetables; in nursery work; in sod farming; or in Christmas tree cultivation or harvesting.

Two surveys of migrant workers in Wisconsin were conducted in 1978 and 1989. The 1978 survey was based on a 10 percent statewide sample of migrant workers, age 16 or older, using lists of names randomly selected from employers' payroll files during July and August, the peak seasonal employment months. The list of these employers was obtained from the Bureau of Migrant Services, Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations, which is required to have a complete registry of all employers who hire migrant workers. After each employer of migrant workers was contacted, every 10th name was selected from the lists of migrant workers that the employers supplied. Beginning with a random start, a total of 408 workers were selected, representing about 4,080 migrant workers who were in Wisconsin for the 1978 planting and harvesting season. Bilingual researchers interviewed migrant workers face-to-face at their residences throughout Wisconsin. Interview schedules were printed in both English and Spanish, and the respondent chose either language for the interview. Interviewing began in early July and ended September 30th. Of the 408 persons selected, interviews were held with 262, resulting in a response rate of 64 percent. Eight of the 408 persons selected refused to be interviewed, while the other 138 persons had moved within the few days between the time their names were chosen and the time of the interviews. Because the place of employment was known for all 146 workers in the selected sample who were not interviewed, the principal investigators were able to use a weighting procedure to attain a more complete representation of the selected sample than the unweighted number of the 262 workers actually interviewed afforded.

The 1989 survey used the same sampling method and a slightly revised version of the 1978 interview instrument. Since severe budget restrictions precluded a statewide survey in 1989, the follow-up study was limited to three counties--Columbia, Dane, and Waushara--containing approximately one third of the migrants expected in the season. The three counties included in the 1989 sample are an approximate representation of the state as a whole. The number of interviews held was 113.

The focus of the surveys was on the health care needs of migrant farm workers, and their opinions on obtaining health care in the local area. Extensive information was collected on chronic conditions, illnesses, and medical utilization patterns. Other data collected include health insurance status, migration history, demographic characteristics, employment, income, housing and environment health, and social integration.

These two surveys were obtained by DPLS in the spring of 1997. The original files were obtained in SPSS portable format. These files were written out in raw ASCII format and complete codebooks were created by DPLS staff for each ASCII file with the help of a locally-written SAS program (for more information on this program see study ZA-021-001 in the DISC Online Catalog). Also available for use with the ASCII files are SPSS variable definition files that were created by the SAS program. Both the SPSS portable and the raw ASCII versions of the surveys are available from the archive, along with the SPSS dictionary files associated with the portable files and variable frequencies for both surveys.