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Is There an Informal Employment Wage Penalty? Evidence from South Africa

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  • Eliane El Badaoui
  • Eric Strobl
  • Frank Walsh

Abstract

We estimate the wage penalty associated with working in the South African informal sector. To this end we use a rich data set on non-self-employed males that allows one to accurately distinguish workers employed in the informal sector from those employed in the formal sector and link individuals over time. Implementing various econometric approaches we find that there is a gross wage penalty of a little over 18% for working in the informal sector. However, once we reduce our sample to a group for which we can reasonably calculate earnings net of taxes and control for time-invariant unobservables, the wage penalty disappears.

Suggested Citation

  • Eliane El Badaoui & Eric Strobl & Frank Walsh, 2008. "Is There an Informal Employment Wage Penalty? Evidence from South Africa," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 683-710.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:56:y:2008:p:683-710
    DOI: 10.1086/533550
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Olivier Bargain & Prudence Kwenda, 2014. "The Informal Sector Wage Gap: New Evidence Using Quantile Estimations on Panel Data," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63(1), pages 117-153.
    2. Fernando Botelho & Vladimir Ponczek, 2011. "Segmentation in the Brazilian Labor Market," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(2), pages 437-463.
    3. Lehmann, Hartmut & Pignatti, Norberto, 2007. "Informal Employment Relationships and Labor Market Segmentation in Transition Economies: Evidence from Ukraine," IZA Discussion Papers 3269, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. John Bennett & Matthew D. Rablen, 2015. "Self-employment, wage employment, and informality in a developing economy," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(2), pages 227-244.
    5. repec:ldr:wpaper:92 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Melanie Khamis, 2012. "Is Informal Sector Work an Alternative to Workfare Benefits? The Case of Pre-program Expansion and Economic Crisis," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(4), pages 579-593, November.
    7. Maren Michaelsen & John Haisken-DeNew, 2015. "Migration magnet: the role of work experience in rural–urban wage differentials," IZA Journal of Migration, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, December.
    8. Andrew Kerr & Martin Wittenberg & Jairo Arrow, 2014. "Job Creation and Destruction in South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 82(1), pages 1-18, March.
    9. Paula Herrera-Idárraga & Enrique López-Bazo & Elisabet Motellón, 2012. "Informality and overeducation in the labor market of a developing country," Working Papers XREAP2012-20, Xarxa de Referència en Economia Aplicada (XREAP), revised Nov 2012.
    10. Morales, Rolando, 2012. "Entre la formalidad y la informalidad. ¿Opciones e ingresos diferentes?," Revista Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Economico, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana, issue 17, pages 7-52, Mayo.
    11. Olivier Bargain & Prudence Kwenda, 2009. "The Informal Sector Wage Gap: New Evidence Using Quantile Regressions on Panel Data," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 09-06, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
    12. Erik Jonasson, 2011. "Informal Employment and the Role of Regional Governance," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 429-441, August.
    13. Heath, Rachel, 2017. "Fertility at work: Children and women's labor market outcomes in urban Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 190-214.
    14. John P. Haisken-DeNew & Maren M. Michaelsen, 2011. "Migration Magnet: The Role of Work Experience in Rural-Urban Wage Diff erentials in Mexico," Ruhr Economic Papers 0263, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    15. Michaelsen, Maren M. & Haisken-DeNew, John P., 2011. "Migration Magnet: The Role of Work Experience in Rural-Urban Wage Differentials in Mexico," Ruhr Economic Papers 263, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    16. John Bennett, 2011. "Informal Production and Labour Market Segmentation," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 167(4), pages 686-707, December.
    17. Olivier Bargain & Prudence Kwenda, 2010. "Is informality bad? Evidence from Brazil, Mexico and South Africa," Working Papers 201003, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    18. repec:zbw:rwirep:0263 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. M. Arouri & A. Ben Youssef & Ceyhun Elgin, 2014. "Informal economy in Africa: Building human capital to set the Gazelles free," Working Papers 2014/04, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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