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Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality

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  • Daniel Haanwinckel

    (University of Chicago)

  • Rodrigo R. Soares

    (Columbia University)

Abstract

We develop a search model of informal labor markets with worker and firm heterogeneity, intra-firm bargaining with imperfect substitutability across types of workers, and a comprehensive set of labor regulations, including minimum wage. Stylized facts associated with the informal sector, such as smaller firms and lower wages, emerge endogenously as firms and workers decide whether to comply with regulations. Imperfect substitutability across types of workers, decreasing returns to scale, and convex vacancy-posting costs enable the model to reproduce empirical patterns incompatible with existing frameworks in the literature: the presence of skilled and unskilled workers in the formal and informal sectors, the rising share of skilled workers by firm size, the declining formal wage premium by skill, and the rising firm-size wage premium by skill. These features also allow us to analyze the equilibrium responses to changes in the demand and supply of different types of labor. We estimate the model using Brazilian data and show that it reproduces various margins of labor market changes observed between 2003 and 2012. The change in the composition of the labor force appears as the main driving force behind the reduction in informality. We illustrate the use of the model for policy analysis by assessing the effectiveness of a progressive payroll tax in reducing informality.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Haanwinckel & Rodrigo R. Soares, 2020. "Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality," Working Papers 2020-45, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bfi:wpaper:2020-45
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    Cited by:

    1. Eva-Maria Egger, 2019. "Internal migration and crime in Brazil," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-112, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Cristina Fernández & Leonardo Villar, 2016. "A Taxonomy of Colombia’s Informal Labor Market," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, vol. 46(1), pages 15-50, June.
    3. Engbom, Niklas & Gonzaga, Gustavo & Moser, Christian & Olivieri, Roberta, 2021. "Earnings Inequality and Dynamics in the Presence of Informality: The Case of Brazil," CEPR Discussion Papers 16117, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Esteban-Pretel, Julen & Kitao, Sagiri, 2021. "Labor Market Policies in a Dual Economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    5. Rodrigo R. Soares & Daniel Haanwinckel, 2017. "Fighting employment informality with schooling," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 394-394, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    informality; labor market; search; minimum wage; compensating differentials; Brazil;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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