Matthew D. Marr
Florida International University, USA

Abel Valenzuela, Jr.
University of California, Los Angeles, USA


Day labor is often described as unstructured, rendering unclear its capacity to serve as a trap in homelessness or a step up into the formal economy. We explore this issue by describing the factors that influence homelessness among day laborers. We analyze survey data from Tokyo’s largest yoseba, or day labor enclave, and find that day laborers avoided homelessness via more days worked, education, length of tenure as a day laborer, and interpersonal connections with brokers. Attention to cumulative experiences and social ties in day labor markets is crucial to understanding their structure, dynamics, functions, and effects on workers’ long-term trajectories.

Keywords: Day labor, homelessness, social capital, Japan.