IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Brazil: the pressure points in labor legislation

Listed author(s):
  • Amadeo, Edward Joaquim
  • Gill, Indermit S.
  • Neri, Marcelo Cortes

Brazil’s experience shows that the economic and political history of a country is a critical determinant of which labor laws influence wages and employment, and which are not binding. Long periods of high inflation, illiteracy of the workforce, and biases in the design and enforcement of labor legislation bred by the country’s socioeconomic history are all important in determining the reach of labor laws. Defying conventional wisdom, these factors are shown to affect labor market outcomes even in the sector of employment regarded as unregulated. Following accepted practice in Brazil, we distinguish regulated from unregulated employment by determining whether or not the contract has been ratified by the Ministry of Labor, viz., groups of workers with and without signed work booklet. We then examine the degree of adherence to labor laws in the formal and informal sectors, and finds 'pressure points' – viz., evidence of the law on minimum wage, work-hours, and payment timing being binding on outcomes – in both the formal and informal sectors of the Brazilian labor market. The findings of the paper imply that in terms of the design of legislation, informality in Brazil is mainly a fiscal, and not a legal phenomenon. But the manner in which these laws have been enforced is also critical determinant of informality in Brazil: poor record-keeping has strengthened the incentives to stay informal that are already built into the design of the main social security programs, and ambiguities in the design of labor legislation combined with slanted enforcement by labor courts have led to workers effectively being accorded the same labor rights whether or not they have ratified contracts. The incentives to stay informal are naturally higher for workers who are assured of protection under labor legislation regardless of the nature of their contract, which only alters their financial relationship with the government. The paper concludes that informality in Brazil will remain high as long as labor laws remain ambiguous and enforced with a clear pro-labor bias, and social security programs lack tight benefitcontribution linkages and strong enforcement mechanisms.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil) in its series FGV/EPGE Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) with number 395.

in new window

Date of creation: 01 Jul 2000
Handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:395
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Praia de Botafogo 190, sala 1100, Rio de Janeiro/RJ - CEP: 22253-900

Phone: 55-21-2559-5871
Fax: 55-21-2553-8821
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fgv:epgewp:395. 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: (Núcleo de Computação da FGV/EPGE)

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 references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link 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 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.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.