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Wages and Informality in Developing Countries

Author

Listed:
  • Costas Meghir
  • Renata Narita
  • Jean-Marc Robin

Abstract

We develop an equilibrium wage-posting model with heterogeneous firms that decide to locate in the formal or the informal sector and workers who search randomly on and off the job. We estimate the model on Brazilian labor force survey data. In equilibrium, firms of equal productivity locate in different sectors, a fact observed in the data. Wages are characterized by compensating differentials. We show that tightening enforcement does not increase unemployment and increases wages, total output, and welfare by enabling better allocation of workers to higher productivity jobs and improving competition in the formal labor market. (JEL E26, J24, J31, J46, O15, O17)

Suggested Citation

  • Costas Meghir & Renata Narita & Jean-Marc Robin, 2015. "Wages and Informality in Developing Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1509-1546, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:105:y:2015:i:4:p:1509-46
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.20121110
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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