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Social Security Coverage and the Labor Market in Developing Countries

  • Paula Auerbach
  • María Eugenia Genoni
  • Carmen Pagés-Serra


This paper analyzes the reasons behind the low rates of contribution to social security programs in developing countries. Using a large set of harmonized household surveys from Latin America we compare contribution patterns among wage employees, for whom participation is compulsory, with contribution patterns among self-employed workers, for whom participation is often voluntary. In all countries, contribution rates among salaried workers are similarly correlated with education, earnings, size of the employer, household characteristics and age. In addition, contribution patterns among salaried workers are highly correlated with contribution patterns among the self-employed. Our results indicate that on average more than 30 percent of the explained within-country variance in contributions patterns may be accounted for by individuals’ low willingness to participate in old-age pension programs. Nonetheless, we also find evidence suggesting that some workers are rationed out of social security against their will.

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Paper provided by Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department in its series Research Department Publications with number 4421.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:idb:wpaper:4421
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  1. Gruber, Jonathan, 1997. "The Incidence of Payroll Taxation: Evidence from Chile," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S72-101, July.
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  5. Barr, Abigail & Packard, Truman, 2002. "Revealed preference and self-insurance - Can we learn from the self-employed in Chile?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2754, The World Bank.
  6. Sebastian Edwards & Alejandra Cox Edwards, 2002. "Social Security Privatization Reform and Labor Markets: The Case of Chile," NBER Working Papers 8924, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Gong, Xiaodong & van Soest, Arthur & Villagomez, Elizabeth, 2000. "Mobility in the Urban Labor Market: A Panel Data Analysis for Mexico," IZA Discussion Papers 213, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. 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.
  9. Maloney, William, 2003. "Informality revisited," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2965, The World Bank.
  10. 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.
  11. Lemos, Sara, 2004. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage in the Formal and Informal Sectors in Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 1089, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. MacIsaac, Donna & Rama, Martin, 1997. "Determinants of Hourly Earnings in Ecuador: The Role of Labor Market Regulations," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages S136-65, July.
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