Social Protection Programs and Employment: The Case of Mexico's Seguro Popular Program
Mexico created Seguro Popular in 2002 with the goal of providing free or subsidized health insurance coverage to 47 million uninsured people by the year 2013. Hence, one unintended consequence of the program could be an increase in the size of the informal sector. The introduction of the Seguro Popular program was conducted in stages, across municipalities and time. We exploit this variation and implement a differences-in-differences approach in order to identify the causal effect of the program in formal employment outcomes. We analyze the effect of Seguro Popular using 33 large and relatively rich cities from labor force surveys conducted from 2001 to 2004. In order to measure the effect for poorer municipalities, we also use the individual-level Oportunidades dataset that covers 136 municipalities from 2002 to 2004. We find little evidence of any correlation between Seguro Popular and the decision of workers to be employed in the formal or informal sector. One possible explanation of our findings is the low enrollment of the Seguro Popular program during the period we study. We provide suggestive evidence from the 33 cities that the result holds for the 2005 to 2006 period as well. We conclude that the recent increase in informal employment in large municipalities in Mexico is due to other causes.
Volume (Year): XXII (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (July-December)
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