IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Labor Informality in Latin America and the Caribbean: Patterns and Trends from Household Survey Microdata


  • Leonardo Gasparini

    () (Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales (CEDLAS) - FCE - UNLP)

  • Leopoldo Tornarolli

    (Centro de Estudios Distributivos, Laborales y Sociales (CEDLAS) - FCE - UNLP)


This paper documents the main patterns and trends of alternative definitions of labor informality in Latin America and the Caribbean, by exploiting a large database of more than 100 household surveys covering the period 1989-2005. The evidence suggests that there are no signs of a consistent pattern of reduction in labor informality in the region. Regardless of the definition used, labor informality remains a pervasive characteristic of labor markets in LAC. In several countries the increase in labor informality seems to have been associated more to a sizeable increase in the propensity to set informal arrangements within groups, than to changes in the national employment structure toward more informal sectors.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Leonardo Gasparini & Leopoldo Tornarolli, 2007. "Labor Informality in Latin America and the Caribbean: Patterns and Trends from Household Survey Microdata," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0046, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  • Handle: RePEc:dls:wpaper:0046

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
    2. Pradhan, Menno & van Soest, Arthur, 1995. "Formal and informal sector employment in urban areas of Bolivia," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(3), pages 275-297, September.
    3. James J. Heckman & Lance J. Lochner & Petra E. Todd, 2003. "Fifty Years of Mincer Earnings Regressions," NBER Working Papers 9732, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fugazza, Marco & Fiess, Norbert M. & Maloney, William, 2002. "Exchange rate appreciations, labor market rigidities, and informality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2771, The World Bank.
    5. Portes, Alejandro & Blitzer, Silvia & Curtis, John, 1986. "The urban informal sector in Uruguay: Its internal structure, characteristics, and effects," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(6), pages 727-741, June.
    6. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. L. C. Gasparini, 2002. "Microeconometric decompositions of aggregate variables: an application to labour informality in Argentina," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(18), pages 2257-2266.
    8. Jaime Saavedra & Alberto Chong, 1999. "Structural reform, institutions and earnings: Evidence from the formal and informal sectors in urban Peru," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 95-116.
    9. Gasparini Leonardo & Leonardo Tornaroli, 2009. "Labor Informality in Latin America and the Caribbean: Patterns and Trends from Household Survey Microdata," REVISTA DESARROLLO Y SOCIEDAD, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE, September.
    10. Guha-Khasnobis, Basudeb & Kanbur, Ravi & Ostrom, Elinor, 2006. "Beyond Formality and Informality," Working Papers 127038, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
    11. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J2 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dls:wpaper:0046. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Ana Pacheco). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.