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The Impact of Lowering the Payroll Tax on Informality in Colombia

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  • Cristina Fernandez

    ()

  • Leonardo Villar

    ()

Abstract

In 2012, the Colombian Government reduced employer payroll contributions from 29.5 to 16.0 percent. Two years later, the informality rate had diminished by about 4.0 percentage points. This paper attempts to estimate how much of this reduction was due to the tax reform, isolating the impact of other macroeconomic variables. A natural approach to performing this task is to apply a difference-in-differences methodology using a household survey panel. Since the Colombian survey does not have a panel structure, we simulated one using a matching difference-in-differences methodology. According to the results, the tax reform is associated with a 4.8-percentage-point decrease in the informality of workers affected by the reform in the thirteen main metropolitan areas. This represents approximately half the reduction of the relevant informality rate during that period, affecting mostly salaried men and workers in general with low levels of education.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Fernandez & Leonardo Villar, 2017. "The Impact of Lowering the Payroll Tax on Informality in Colombia," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2017), pages 125-155, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:015830
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    Cited by:

    1. Leonardo Fabio Morales & Carlos Medina, 2017. "Assessing the Effect of Payroll Taxes on Formal Employment: The Case of the 2012 Tax Reform in Colombia," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2017), pages 75-124, November.
    2. Cristina Fernández & Leonardo Villar & Nicolás Gómez, 2017. "Taxonomía de la informalidad en América Latina," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, vol. 47(1 y 2), pages 137-167, December.
    3. Morales, Leonardo Fabio & Medina, Daniel, 2019. "Fluidez del mercado laboral y resultados en materia de empleo en Colombia: evidencia derivada de datos enlazados de empleadores y empleados," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), April.
    4. Albertini, Julien & Terriau, Anthony, 2019. "Informality over the life-cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 182-202.
    5. repec:ecr:col070:44717 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Luis E. Arango & Luz A. Flórez, 2017. "Informalidad laboral y elementos para un salario mínimo diferencial por regiones en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1023, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    7. Gaurav Khanna & Carlos Medina & Anant Nyshadham & Jorge Tamayo, 2018. "Formal Employment and Organized Crime: Regression Discontinuity Evidence from Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1054, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    8. Luis E. Arango & Luz A. Flórez & María A. Olarte-Delgado, 2019. "Precio del carbón y dinámica laboral en Valledupar," Revista de Economía del Rosario, Universidad del Rosario, vol. 22(2), pages 313-370, December.
    9. Luis E. Arango & Luz A. Flórez & María A. Olarte-Delgado, 2019. "Precio del carbón y dinámica laboral en Valledupar," Revista de Economía del Rosario, Universidad del Rosario, vol. 22(2), pages 313-370, December.
    10. Jukka Pirttilä & Andy McKay & Caroline Schimanski, 2019. "The tax elasticity of formal work in African countries," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-69, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    11. McKay Andy & Pirttilä Jukka & Schimanski Caroline, 2018. "The Elasticity of Formal Work in African Countries," Working Papers 1820, Tampere University, School of Management and Business, Economics.
    12. Jessen, Jonas & Kluve, Jochen, 2019. "The effectiveness of interventions to reduce informality in low- and middle income countries," Ruhr Economic Papers 814, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    13. Leonardo Fabio Morales & José Lobo, 2017. "Estimating Vacancies from Firms’ Hiring behavior: The Case of a Developing Economy," Borradores de Economia 1017, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    14. Andrés Ham & Darío Maldonado & Carlos Santiago Guzmán-Gutiérrez, 2019. "Tendencias recientes en la situación laboral de los jóvenes en Colombia: diagnóstico, desafíos y retos de política pública," Documentos de trabajo 017569, Escuela de Gobierno - Universidad de los Andes.
    15. Leonardo Fabio Morales & Didier Hermida & Eleonora Dávalos, 2019. "Interactions between Formal and Informal Labor Dynamics: Revealing Job Flows from Household Surveys," Borradores de Economia 1090, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal markets; payroll taxes; matching; difference-in-differences;

    JEL classification:

    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models

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