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Behind the Lighthouse Effect

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Author Info

  • Boeri, Tito

    ()
    (Bocconi University)

  • Garibaldi, Pietro

    ()
    (University of Turin)

  • Ribeiro, Marta

    ()
    (Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Porto)

Abstract

A large body of empirical literature indicates that, contrary to predictions from economic theory, wages in the informal sector increase after any minimum wage hike. This phenomenon was so far explained as a byproduct of a signal conveyed by statutory minimum wages to wage setting in the informal sector, as if workers in the latter had significant bargaining power. A simple matching model shows that the lighthouse effect may be induced by significant sorting and composition effects between the formal and shadow sectors in the aftermath of the increase in the minimum wage. Using data on Brazil, we test this alternative explanation of the lighthouse effect, associated with the endogenous sorting of workers by skill in the formal and informal sectors. We find that sorting accounts for at least one third of the increase in average wages in the informal sector after the minimum wage hike. This contribution of sorting to wage dynamics in the informal sector is also increasing over time.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4890.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4890

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Related research

Keywords: lighthouse effect; minimum wage; sorting;

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References

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  1. Edgar L. Feige, 2005. "The Underground Economy And The Currency Enigma," Macroeconomics 0502004, EconWPA.
  2. Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, 2005. "Shadow Sorting," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2005, pages 125-163 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2004. "The Effects of Multiple Minimum Wages Throughout the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 1159, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2004. "Legal Minimum Wages and the Wages of Formal and Informal Sector Workers in Costa Rica," IZA Discussion Papers 1018, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  6. Amadeo, Edward Joaquim & Gill, Indermit S. & Neri, Marcelo Cortes, 2000. "Brazil: The Pressure Points in Labor Legislation," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 395, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finan├žas, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  7. Eran Yashiv, 2000. "The Determinants of Equilibrium Unemployment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1297-1322, December.
  8. Edward M. Gramlich, 1976. "Impact of Minimum Wages on Other Wages, Employment, and Family Incomes," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 7(2), pages 409-462.
  9. Mincer, Jacob, 1976. "Unemployment Effects of Minimum Wages," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(4), pages S87-104, August.
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