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Export boom, employment bust? The paradox of Indonesia's displaced workers, 2000-14

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  • Shrestha, Rashesh
  • Coxhead, Ian

Abstract

In Indonesia, an export boom and sustained, rapid GDP growth in the decade after 2000 was accompanied by real earnings that were flat on average, and even declining for many workers. Conventional models of growth and trade predict that labor productivity rises as an economy develops; that this should not be observed during a period of high GDP growth is a puzzle that merits careful investigation. In this paper we explore these seemingly paradoxical trends using several waves of a panel of individual employment data. Economic growth is rarely balanced in a sectoral sense, and the nature of the structural change experienced by Indonesia is also strongly associated with lower competitiveness in sectors where formal employment rates are high, causing some degree of involuntary labor movement from formal to informal modes of employment. We explore this econometrically and find that the earnings of workers displaced from formal to informal jobs are significantly lower relative to workers who remain in the formal market. The fact of this displacement, and its implications for individual earnings, undercuts conventional thinking about the welfare gains from a sustained growth experience. Our findings add, perhaps for the first time, a developing-country dimension to the existing job displacement literature. They also shed some light on the causes of Indonesia's unprecedented increase in inequality during the same growth epoch.

Suggested Citation

  • Shrestha, Rashesh & Coxhead, Ian, 2018. "Export boom, employment bust? The paradox of Indonesia's displaced workers, 2000-14," CEI Working Paper Series 2018-6, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2018-6
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    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/hermes/ir/re/29410/wp2018-6.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Displacement; Formal; Informal; Earnings; Indonesia;

    JEL classification:

    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • J63 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Turnover; Vacancies; Layoffs
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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