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Maquiladoras and Informality: A Mixed Blessing

Author

Listed:
  • Benedikt Heid
  • Mario Larch
  • Alejandro Riaño

Abstract

Mexico experienced a tremendous expansion of its export-processing maquila sector during the 1990s. At the same time, a large proportion of its labor force remains employed in the informal sector. Since one of the main objectives of the maquiladora program was to increase formal employment, we study how the rapid increase in maquiladora activity has affected labor market outcomes in Mexico. We develop a heterogeneous firm model with imperfect labor markets that captures salient features of the Mexican economy such as the differences between maquila and non-maquila manufacturing plants and the existence of an informal sector. We calibrate the model's parameters to match key cross-sectional moments characterizing the Mexican economy. Our quantitative model indicates that the expansion of the maquila sector during the 1990s produced an increase in informality of 0.9% and a reduction in the skill premium and overall welfare of 2.7% and 3.7%, respectively. A counterfactual experiment in which we shut down the informal sector completely results in a reduction of Mexican welfare of 33.5% relative to the equilibrium with an informal sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Benedikt Heid & Mario Larch & Alejandro Riaño, 2011. "Maquiladoras and Informality: A Mixed Blessing," CESifo Working Paper Series 3689, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3689
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp3689.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Artuc,Erhan & Lederman,Daniel & Rojas Alvarado,Luis Diego & Artuc,Erhan & Lederman,Daniel & Rojas Alvarado,Luis Diego, 2015. "The rise of China and labor market adjustments in Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7155, The World Bank.
    2. Irène Selwaness & Chahir Zaki, 2013. "Assessing the Impact of Trade Reforms on Informality in Egypt," Working Papers 759, Economic Research Forum, revised Jun 2013.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    offshoring; informal sector; maquiladoras; trade and labor markets; Mexico;

    JEL classification:

    • F12 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Models of Trade with Imperfect Competition and Scale Economies; Fragmentation
    • F14 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Empirical Studies of Trade
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy

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