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Labor Market "Rigidity" and the Success of Economic Reforms Across more than One Hundred Countries

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Author Info

  • Alvaro Forteza

    ()
    (Departmento de Economía, Facultad de Ciencias Sociales, Universidad de la República)

  • Martín Rama

    ()
    (Development Research Group, World Bank)

Abstract

This paper shows that labor market policies and institutions have an impact on the effectiveness of economic reform programs. The analysis compares annual growth rates across 119 countries, using data from 449 adjustment credits and loans given by the World Bank between 1980 and 1996. The results indicate that countries with relatively “rigid” labor markets experienced deeper recessions before adjustment and slower recoveries afterwards. The paper also disentagles the mechanisms through which labor market “rigidity” operates. It finds that minimum wages and mandatory benefits have a marginal impact only. The size and strength of organized labor, on the other hand, appear to be crucial. Labor market rigidity thus seem to be relevant for political reasons, more than for economic reasons. The paper shows that these findings are robust to changes in the sample and specification. Overall, the results suggest that insufficient attention has been paid to the compensation of vocal groups who stand to lose from economic reforms.

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File URL: http://decon.edu.uy/publica/2000/Doc0600.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics - dECON in its series Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) with number 0600.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2000
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ude:wpaper:0600

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  1. Carmen Pagés-Serra & James J. Heckman, 2000. "The Cost of Job Security Regulation: Evidence from Latin American Labor Markets," IDB Publications 4119, Inter-American Development Bank.
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  9. Jeffrey Sachs & Andrew Warner, 1995. "Economic Reform and the Progress of Global Integration," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1733, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  10. Levine, Ross & Renelt, David, 1992. "A Sensitivity Analysis of Cross-Country Growth Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 942-63, September.
  11. Mohsin S. Khan, 1990. "The Macroeconomic Effects of Fund-Supported Adjustment Programs," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 37(2), pages 195-231, June.
  12. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  13. Carmen Pagés-Serra, 2000. "The Cost of Job Security Regulation: Evidence from Latin American Labor Markets," Journal of LACEA Economia, LACEA - LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
  14. Carmen Pagés-Serra & James J. Heckman, 2000. "The Cost of Job Security Regulation: Evidence from Latin American Labor Markets," Research Department Publications 4227, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  15. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Vegh, Carlos A., 1999. "Inflation stabilization and bop crises in developing countries," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 24, pages 1531-1614 Elsevier.
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  19. Easterly, William & Loayza, Norman & Montiel, Peter, 1997. "Has Latin America's post-reform growth been disappointing?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1708, The World Bank.
  20. Rama, Martin, 1997. " Labor Market Institutions and the Second-Best Tariff," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 299-314, June.
  21. Fallon, Peter R & Lucas, Robert E B, 1991. "The Impact of Changes in Job Security Regulations in India and Zimbabwe," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(3), pages 395-413, September.
  22. Rama, Martin, 1999. "Public Sector Downsizing: An Introduction," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 1-22, January.
  23. Haltiwanger, John & Singh, Manisha, 1999. "Cross-Country Evidence on Public Sector Retrenchment," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 23-66, January.
  24. Edwards, Sebastian, 1988. "Terms of Trade, Tariffs, and Labor Market Adjustment in Developing Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 2(2), pages 165-85, May.
  25. Karras, Georgios, 1999. "Openness and the effects of monetary policy," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 13-26, January.
  26. Burnside, Craig & Dollar, David, 1997. "Aid, policies, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1777, The World Bank.
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