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3D (neologism)

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3D (neologism)

Dirty, Dangerous and Demeaning (often Dirty, Dangerous and Demanding or Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult), also known as the 3Ds, is an American neologism derived from an Asian concept, and refers to certain kinds of labor often performed by unionized blue-collar workers.

The term originated from the Japanese expression 3K: kitanai, kiken, kitsui [1] (respectively 汚い, 危険, きつい), and has subsequently gained widespread use, particularly regarding labor done by migrant workers.

Typically, any task, regardless of industry, can qualify as a 3D job. These jobs can bring higher wages due to a shortage of willing qualified individuals and in many world regions are filled by migrant workers looking for higher wages.[2][3][4][5] For many migrant workers, engaging in high risk, low status work can be a way to escape poverty - captured by a line in the Irish folk song Finnegan's Wake, "to rise in the world he carried a hod".

Economic status

Traditionally, workers in 3D professions are well paid,[6] due to the undesirability of the work, and the resulting need to pay higher wages to attract workers.[7][8] This has allowed the uneducated and unskilled to earn a living wage by foregoing comfort, personal safety and social status. This concept proves itself in the economic theory of quantity supplied and quantity demanded (see Quantity adjustment), the wages paid to these workers is higher due to the undesirable nature of their professions.

However, in regions where certain classes of workers are restricted to this type of work or there are contributing regional conditions - for example, high unemployment, adjacent to regions with high poverty, or the recipient of driven labor migration - there will be workers willing to accept lower than equilibrium wages and then these jobs are not well paid. Large scale international labor migration, from developing to developed countries since the late 19th century and early 20th century has provided a pool of migrants willing to undertake employment for lower wages than native residents. Higher wages in developed countries are a strong 'pull' factor in international migration, and thus while a migrant worker is willing to accept a comparatively low-wage for a 3D job in a developed country it may mean a significant increase in wages compared to her originating country.

Prominent current examples of such migration include Filipino entertainment workers who migrate to Japan, and of Indians and Pakistanis going to the Middle East to work in the construction industry.[9] In the United States, 3D occupations once filled by Irish and German immigrants, are today held by many Latin Americans. The highest paying work available to these often unskilled and uneducated (or their foreign certificates of skills and education are not recognized) immigrants is work that is of lower social status, and has a higher risk of injury.

These workers are susceptible to exploitation, and without representation can have a difficult time maintaining fair living wages . Since the beginning of the labor movement, immigrant workers in 3D jobs have formed the backbone of many labor unions.[10]


As the name indicates, dirty, dangerous and demanding work can impose severe physical and mental costs on workers. There is often a risk of early retirement due to injury, general joint depletion or mental fatigue. After witnessing the constant physical and mental injury to coworkers or even death, the stress can cause mental fatigue and post-traumatic stress disorder.

See Also

Statute of Labourers 1351


External links

  • Come back alive dangerous jobs
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI)
  • The Economist Pocket Asia, 1998. Andrews, John. The Economist, 1998. Copyright The Economist, 199
  • The Worst Jobs in Historyja:3K
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