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Wages and informality in developing countries

Author

Listed:
  • Costas Meghir

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Yale University)

  • Renata Narita

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Jean-Marc Robin

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies and cemmap and Sciences Po)

Abstract

It is often argued that informal labour markets in developing countries are the engine of growth because their existence allows firms to operate in an environment where wage and regulatory costs are lower. On the other hand informality means that the amount of social protection offered to workers is lower. In this paper we extend the wage-posting framework of Burdett and Mortensen (1998) to allow for two sectors of employment. Firms are heterogeneous and decide endogenously in which sector to locate. Workers engage in both off the job and on the job search and decide which offers to accept. Direct transitions across sectors are permitted, which matches the evidence in the data about job mobility. Our empirical analysis uses Brazilian labour force surveys. We use the model to discuss the relative merits of alternative policies towards informality. In particular, we evaluate the impact of a tighter regulatory framework on employment in the formal and the informal sector on the distribution of wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Costas Meghir & Renata Narita & Jean-Marc Robin, 2013. "Wages and informality in developing countries," CeMMAP working papers CWP08/13, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:cemmap:08/13
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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