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Cyclical Informality and Unemployment

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  • Mariano Bosch

    (Departamento de Fundamentos del Analisis Economico, Universidad de Alicante)

  • Julen Esteban-Pretel

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

Abstract

The proportion of informal or unprotected workers in developing countries is large. In developing economies, the fraction of informal workers can be as high as 70% of total employment. For economies with significant informal sectors, business cycle fluctuations and labor market policy interventions can have important effects on the unemployment rate, and also produce large reallocations of workers between "regulated" and "unregulated" jobs. In this paper, we report the main cyclical patterns of one such labor market: Brazil. We then use the empirical regularities found in the data to build, calibrate, and simulate a two-sector search and matching labor market model, in which firms have the choice of hiring workers formally or informally. We find that our model, built in the spirit of traditional search and matching models, can explain well most of the cyclical properties found in the data. We also show that government policies that decrease the cost of formal jobs, or increase the cost of informality, raise the share of formal employment while reducing unemployment.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-613.

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Length: 41pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2009cf613

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  1. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
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  5. Fabio Kanczuk, 2004. "Real Interest Rates and Brazilian Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 436-455, April.
  6. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2007. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0839, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  7. Robert Shimer, 2012. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 127-148, April.
  8. Gustavo Gonzaga, 2003. "Labor Turnover and Labor Legislation in Brazil," JOURNAL OF LACEA ECONOMIA, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  9. Albrecht, James & Navarro, Lucas & Vroman, Susan, 2006. "The Effects of Labor Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," IZA Discussion Papers 2141, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  11. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  12. Almeida, Rita K. & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of Regulation, Informal Labor and Firm Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1759, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, December.
  14. Christiano, Lawrence J, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Linear-Quadratic Approximation and by Value-Function Iteration," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 23-26, January.
  15. Henley, Andrew & Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Carneiro, Francisco G., 2006. "On defining and measuring the informal sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3866, The World Bank.
  16. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Jorge Alonso-Ortiz & Julio Leal, 2013. "The elasticity of Informality to Taxes and tranfers," Working Papers 1308, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  2. Margolis, David N. & Navarro, Lucas & Robalino, David A., 2012. "Unemployment Insurance, Job Search and Informal Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 6660, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Pedro Silos & Enchuan Shao & Shutao Cao, 2011. "Fixed-Term and Permanent Employment Contracts: Theory and Evidence," 2011 Meeting Papers 872, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Alonso-Ortiz, Jorge & Leal Ordonez, Julio, 2013. "The Elasticity of Informality to Taxes and Transfers," MPRA Paper 49568, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Lisi, Gaetano, 2011. "Matching Models of Equilibrium Unemployment: An Overview," MPRA Paper 30191, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Giuseppe Ciccarone & Francesco Giuli & Enrico Marchetti, 2012. "Underground labor, search frictions and macroeconomic fluctuations," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0159, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
  7. Alonso Ortiz, Jorge & Leal Ordóñez, Julio C., 2011. "Taxes, Transfers and the Distribution of Employment in Mexico," MPRA Paper 32014, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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