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

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  • Olivier Bargain

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

  • Prudence Kwenda

    () (University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Olivier Bargain & Prudence Kwenda, 2013. "The Informal Sector Wage Gap: New Evidence using Quantile Estimations on Panel Data," AMSE Working Papers 1360, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised Jun 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:aim:wpaimx:1360
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    Cited by:

    1. Aysit Tansel & Elif Oznur Acar, 2016. "The Formal/Informal Employment Earnings Gap: Evidence from Turkey," Research on Economic Inequality,in: Inequality after the 20th Century: Papers from the Sixth ECINEQ Meeting, volume 24, pages 121-154 Emerald Publishing Ltd.
    2. Aziza GARSAA & Nadine LEVRATTO & Luc TESSIER, 2015. "Do Exemptions From Social Security Contributions Affect Job Creation? New Empirical Evidence From French Overseas Regions," Region et Developpement, Region et Developpement, LEAD, Universite du Sud - Toulon Var, pages 79-104.
    3. Maria Manuel Campos & Mário Centeno, 2011. "Public-private wage gaps in the period prior to the adoption of the euro: an application based on longitudinal data," Economic Bulletin and Financial Stability Report Articles, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
    4. Nadine Levratto & Aziza Garsaa & Luc Tessier, 2013. "La Corse est-elle soluble dans le modèle méditerranéen ? Une analyse à partir d’une régression quantile sur données d’entreprises en panel entre 2004 et 2010. Is the Corsican economy a part of the Med," EconomiX Working Papers 2013-20, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    5. Olivier BARGAIN & Delphine BOUTIN, 2017. "Minimum age regulation and child labor: New evidence from Brazil," Working Papers 201718, CERDI.
    6. 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.
    7. Dasgupta, Sukti. & Bhula-or, Ruttiya. & Fakthong, Tiraphap., 2015. "Earnings differentials between formal and informal employment in Thailand," ILO Working Papers 994896403402676, International Labour Organization.
    8. repec:bla:ecorec:v:93:y:2017:i::p:105-121 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:spr:izamig:v:7:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1186_s40176-017-0099-x is not listed on IDEAS
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    11. Huikang Ying, 2015. "Labour Informality, Selective Migration, and Productivity in General Equilibrium," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 15/653, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    12. Arbex, Marcelo & Galvao, Antonio F. & Gomes, Fábio Augusto Reis, 2010. "Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education and Informal Activities," Insper Working Papers wpe_216, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
    13. Olivier Bargain & Delphine Boutin, 2017. "Minimum age regulation and child labor: New evidence from Brazil," Working Papers hal-01652435, HAL.
    14. Nordman, Christophe J. & Rakotomanana, Faly & Roubaud, François, 2016. "Informal versus Formal: A Panel Data Analysis of Earnings Gaps in Madagascar," World Development, Elsevier, pages 1-17.
    15. Petr Huber & Ulugbek Rahimov, 2014. "Formal and Informal Sector Wage Differences in Transition Economies: Evidence from Tajikistan," MENDELU Working Papers in Business and Economics 2014-48, Mendel University in Brno, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    16. 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.
    17. Nadine Levratto & Aziza Garsaa & Luc Tessier, 2013. "La Corse est-elle soluble dans le modèle méditerranéen ?," Working Papers hal-00842059, HAL.
    18. Olivier Bargain & Delphine Boutin, 2017. "Minimum Age Regulation and Child Labor: New Evidence from Brazil," Working Papers hal-01629988, HAL.
    19. 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.
    20. Kostas Mavromaras & Stephane Mahuteau & Kostas Mavromaras & Sue Richardson & Rong Zhu, 2017. "Public–Private Sector Wage Differentials in Australia," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, pages 105-121.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    wage gap; informal sector; quantile regression; fixed effects; propensity score; conditional random effects;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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