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A Taxonomy of Colombia’s Informal Labor Market

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  • Cristina Fernández

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  • Leonardo Villar

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Abstract

A taxonomy of the informal labor market is extremely important to understand and handle informality, particularly in a country as Colombia where this phenomenon is large and heterogeneous. As we will argue in this paper, it is possible to identify four different types of informality, according to the reasons to be informal: low productivity of the worker (subsistence informality), barriers to formality (induced informality), choice (voluntary informality) and both choice and low productivity (mixed informality). The policy recommendations to handle informality varies according to the target type of informality. While induced informality might be reduced by the removal of formal employment barriers or by the implementation of active policies to reduce segregation in society, structural informality requires other kinds of policies, such as a focus on improving educational outcomes. Similarly, in the case of voluntary informality, providing economic incentives to formalize and controlling informality might be more effective, whereas mixed informality is more related to wrong incentives created by social benefits. In this paper we propose a methodology to identify the four types of informality to the case of Colombia that follows what we did in Fernandez et al. (2016) but with greater emphasis on the education level. Although the correspondence is far from perfect, we show that in general terms, informal workers with primary education or less can be classified in the Subsistence informality group, informal workers with secondary education can be included in the Induced informality group, informal workers with tertiary education or more can be treated as Voluntary informal workers and informal workers with middle school education can cover mixed informality. Hence, the policy recommendations to handle informality among each education group are different.

Suggested Citation

  • Cristina Fernández & Leonardo Villar, 2016. "A Taxonomy of Colombia’s Informal Labor Market," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 015227, FEDESARROLLO.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000123:015227
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. James Albrecht & Lucas Navarro & Susan Vroman, 2009. "The Effects of Labour Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1105-1129, July.
    2. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
    3. Hazans, Mihails, 2011. "Informal Workers across Europe: Evidence from 30 Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 5871, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Leopoldo Tornarolli & Diego Battistón & Leonardo Gasparini & Pablo Gluzmann, 2014. "Exploring Trends in Labor Informality in Latin America, 1990-2010," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0159, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
    5. Camilo Mondragón-Vélez & Ximena Peña & Daniel Wills, 2010. "Labor Market Rigidities and Informality in Colombia," ECONOMIA JOURNAL, THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2010), pages 65-101, August.
    6. Guillermo E. Perry & William F. Maloney & Omar S. Arias & Pablo Fajnzylber & Andrew D. Mason & Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, 2007. "Informality : Exit and Exclusion," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6730, June.
    7. Haanwinckel, Daniel & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 9951, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Pratap, Sangeeta & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "The Informal Sector in Developing Countries: Output, Assets and Employment," WIDER Working Paper Series 130, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    9. Bernal Raquel, 2009. "The Informal Labor Market in Colombia: identification and characterization," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
    10. Slonimczyk, Fabian, 2011. "The effect of taxation on informal employment: evidence from the Russian flat tax reform," MPRA Paper 35404, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luis E. Arango & Luz A. Flórez, 2017. "Informalidad laboral y elementos para un salario mínimo diferencial por regiones en Colombia," Borradores de Economia 1023, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    2. Cristina Fernández & Leonardo Villar, 2017. "Taxonomía de la informalidad en América Latina," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 015814, FEDESARROLLO.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informalidad; Nivel educativo; Mercado Laboral; Recomendaciones de política; Colombia;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J68 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Public Policy
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality

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