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Enforcement of labor regulation and the labor market effects of trade: evidence from Brazil

Author

Listed:
  • Vladimir Ponczek

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

  • Gabriel Ulyssea

    (Institute for Fiscal Studies)

Abstract

How does enforcement of labor regulations shape the labor market effects of trade? Does the informal sector introduce greater de facto flexibility, reducing employment losses during bad times? To tackle these questions, we exploit local economic shocks generated by trade liberalization and variation in enforcement capacity across local labor markets in Brazil. In the aftermath of the trade opening, regions with stricter enforcement observed: (i) lower informality effects; (ii) larger losses in overall em-ployment; and (iii) greater reductions in the number of formal plants. Regions with weaker enforcement observed opposite effects. All these effects are concentrated on low-skill workers. Our results indicate that greater de facto labor market flexibility introduced by informality allows both formal firms and low-skill workers to cope better with adverse labor market shocks.

Suggested Citation

  • Vladimir Ponczek & Gabriel Ulyssea, 2021. "Enforcement of labor regulation and the labor market effects of trade: evidence from Brazil," IFS Working Papers W21/08, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:ifs:ifsewp:21/08
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Engbom, Niklas & Gonzaga, Gustavo & Moser, Christian & Olivieri, Roberta, 2021. "Earnings Inequality and Dynamics in the Presence of Informality: The Case of Brazil," MPRA Paper 105758, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Garcia-Louzao, Jose & Hospido, Laura & Ruggieri, Alessandro, 2023. "Dual returns to experience," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    7. Berniell, Inés & Berniell, Lucila & Mata, Dolores de la & Edo, María & Marchionni, Mariana, 2021. "Gender gaps in labor informality: The motherhood effect," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    8. Wang, Feicheng & Liang, Zhe & Lehmann, Hartmut, 2021. "Import Competition and Informal Employment: Empirical Evidence from China," IZA Discussion Papers 14650, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    9. Samaniego de la Parra Brenda & Fernández Bujanda León, 2020. "Increasing the Cost of Informal Workers: Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 2020-19, Banco de México.
    10. Camilo Bohorquez-Penuela & Andrea Otero-Cortes, 2020. "Blame it on the Rain: The Effects of Weather Shocks on Formal Rural Employment in Colombia," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 292, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    11. Patrick Wagner & Damian Raess, 2023. "South to north investment linkages and decent work in Brazil," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 37(1), pages 122-159, March.
    12. Amodio, Francesco & Medina, Pamela & Morlacco, Monica, 2022. "Labor Market Power, Self-Employment, and Development," IZA Discussion Papers 15477, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    13. Niklas Engbom & Gustavo Gonzaga & Christian Moser & Roberta Olivieri, 2022. "Earnings inequality and dynamics in the presence of informality: The case of Brazil," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(4), pages 1405-1446, November.
    14. Ana Margarida Fernandes & Joana Silva, 2023. "Adjusting to Transitory Shocks: Worker Impact, Firm Channels, and (Lack of) Income Support," CESifo Working Paper Series 10479, CESifo.
    15. Paulo Bastos & Joana Silva & Eric Verhoogen, 2018. "Export Destinations and Input Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 108(2), pages 353-392, February.
    16. Rodrigo Ceni & Gonzalo Salas, 2021. "Transfer program enforcement and children’s time allocation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 19(4), pages 1099-1137, December.
    17. Raess, Damian & Wagner, Patrick, 2022. "South to north investment linkages and decent work in Brazil," Papers 1382, World Trade Institute.
    18. Mr. Jorge A Alvarez & Cian Ruane, 2019. "Informality and Aggregate Productivity: The Case of Mexico," IMF Working Papers 2019/257, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Chakraborty, Pavel & Singh, Rahul & Soundararajan, Vidhya, 2022. "Import Competition, Formalization, and the Role of Contract Labor," IZA Discussion Papers 15760, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F16 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Labor Market Interactions
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • K31 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Labor Law

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