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The Informal Sector Wage Gap: New Evidence using Quantile Estimations on Panel Data

  • Olivier Bargain


    (Aix-Marseille University (Aix-Marseille School of Economics), CNRS & EHESS, and IZA)

  • Prudence Kwenda


    (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

We estimate the informal-formal sector pay gap throughout the conditional wage distribution using panel data from Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. We control for time-invariant unobservables and identification is stemming from inter-sector movers. We control for observables in a non-linear way using propensity score reweighting and carefully check for potential measurement errors. Using similar definitions of informality, we obtain consistent results for all three countries: Informally employed workers earn much less than formal workers primarily because of lower observable and unobservable skills. Estimates of the conditional wage gap show that they are also underpaid compared to their formal sector counterparts. In all three countries, the informal wage penalty is larger in the lower part of the conditional distribution and tends to disappear at the top, i.e., the informal sector increases wage dispersion. The magnitudes of these effects vary across countries, with the largest penalties in lower conditional quantiles of South Africa and more modest wage gaps in Latin America. We suggest explanations in line with different legal and labor market conditions.

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Paper provided by Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France in its series AMSE Working Papers with number 1360.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2013
Date of revision: Jun 2013
Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1360
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