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The response of the informal sector to trade liberalization

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  • Koujianou Goldberg, Pinelopi
  • Pavcnik, Nina

Abstract

This paper studies the relationship between trade liberalization and informality. It is often claimed that increased foreign competition in developing countries leads to an expansion of the informal sector, defined as the sector that does not comply with labor market legislation. Using data from two countries that experienced large trade barrier reductions in the 1980's and 1990's, Brazil and Colombia, we examine the response of the informal sector to liberalization. In Brazil, we find no evidence of a relationship between trade policy and informality. In Colombia, we do find evidence of such a relationship, but only for the period preceding a major labor market reform that increased the flexibility of the Colombian labor market. These results point to the significance of labor market institutions in assessing the effects of trade policy on the labor market.
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Suggested Citation

  • Koujianou Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "The response of the informal sector to trade liberalization," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 463-496, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:72:y:2003:i:2:p:463-496
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    1. Carmen Pagés-Serra, 2000. "The Cost of Job Security Regulation: Evidence from Latin American Labor Markets," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2000), pages 109-154, August.
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    7. Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou & Pavcnik, Nina, 2005. "Trade, wages, and the political economy of trade protection: evidence from the Colombian trade reforms," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 75-105, May.
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    10. Harrison, Ann E & Leamer, Edward, 1997. "Labor Markets in Developing Countries: An Agenda for Research," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 1-19, July.
    11. Pavcnik, Nina & Blom, Andreas & Goldberg, Pinelopi & Schady, Norbert, 2003. "Trade liberalization and labor market adjustment in Brazil," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2982, The World Bank.
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    JEL classification:

    • F10 - International Economics - - Trade - - - General
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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