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Gross Worker Flows in the Presence of Informal Labor Markets. The Mexican Experience 1987-2002

  • Mariano Bosch
  • William Maloney

This paper applies recent advances in the study of labor market dynamics to a representative developing country with a large unregulated of "informal" sector, Mexico. It finds, first, that the formal salaried sector shows the same procyclical job finding rate and mildly countercyclical separation behavior identified in the recent US literature by Shimer (2005a) and Hall (2005). The unregulated informal sector, however, shows reasonable acyclicality in the job finding rate coupled with sharp countercyclical movements in the job separation rate, consistent with standard small firm dynamics and Davis and Haltiwanger (1992 and 1999). The differential behavior of regulated and unregulated sectors, and the finding of relative wage rigidity in the former, sheds suggestive light on the roots of countercyclical job finding behavior in the US. Second, the patterns of worker transitions between all sectors, formal and informal correspond to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the US and not to the traditional idea of informality constituting the inferior sector of a segmented market. That said, the counter cyclical job finding in the formal sector combined with the acyclical job finding in informality does lead to the latter absorbing relatively more labor during downturns, even as its increased separation rates drive movements in unemployment.

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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Performance, LSE in its series CEP Discussion Papers with number dp0753.

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Date of creation: Oct 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:cepdps:dp0753
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/series.asp?prog=CEP

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  1. John Kennan, 2010. "Private Information, Wage Bargaining and Employment Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 633-664.
  2. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
  3. Geweke, John & Marshall, Robert C & Zarkin, Gary A, 1986. "Exact Inference for Continuous Time Markov Chain Models," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(4), pages 653-69, August.
  4. Mazumdar, Dipak, 1976. "The urban informal sector," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 4(8), pages 655-679, August.
  5. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  6. Flinn, C. & Heckman, J., 1982. "New methods for analyzing structural models of labor force dynamics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 115-168, January.
  7. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  8. Dale T. Mortensen, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," 2005 Meeting Papers 326, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  9. Michael Pries & Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Hiring Policies, Labor Market Institutions, and Labor Market Flows," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 811-839, August.
  10. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  11. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Efficiency and Sticky Wages: Evidence from Flows in the Labor Market," NBER Working Papers 11183, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Unemployment and vacancy fluctuations in the matching model: inspecting the mechanism," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 19-50.
  14. Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J & Samuelson, Larry, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-98, November.
  15. Eran Yashiv, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of the Search and Matching Model," CEP Discussion Papers dp0677, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  16. Christopher J. Flinn & James J. Heckman, 1982. "Models for the Analysis of Labor Force Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 0857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Yashiv, Eran, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of the Search and Matching Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 5363, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Antman, Francisca & McKenzie, David J., 2005. "Earnings mobility and measurement error : a pseudo-panel approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3745, The World Bank.
  19. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  20. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transitions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 493-508.
  21. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John C., 2005. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources, Micro-Macro Links and the Recent Downturn," IZA Discussion Papers 1639, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  22. Eran Yashiv, 2005. "Evaluating the performance of the search and matching model," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19906, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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