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Institutions, Informality, and Wage Flexibility; Evidence From Brazil

  • Irineu E. Carvalho Filho
  • Marcello M. Estevão

Even though institutions are created to protect workers, they may interfere with labor market functioning, raise unemployment, and end up being circumvented by informal contracts. This paper uses Brazilian microeconomic data to show that the institutional changes introduced by the 1988 Constitution lowered the sensitivity of real wages to changes in labor market slack and could have contributed to the ensuing higher rates of unemployment in the country. Moreover, the paper shows that states that faced higher increases in informality (i.e., illegal work contracts) following the introduction of the new Constitution tended to have smaller drops in wage responsiveness to macroeconomic conditions, thus suggesting that informality serves as a escape valve to an over-regulated environment.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 12/84.

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Length: 27
Date of creation: 01 Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:12/84
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  1. Filho, Irineu de Carvalho & Chamon, Marcos, 2012. "The myth of post-reform income stagnation: Evidence from Brazil and Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 368-386.
  2. Koujianou Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "The response of the informal sector to trade liberalization," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 463-496, December.
  3. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Carlos Henrique Corseuil, 2004. "The Impact of Regulations on Brazilian Labor Market Performance," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 273-350 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  5. Sanz de Galdeano, Anna & Turunen, Jarkko, 2005. "Real wages and local unemployment in the euro area," Working Paper Series 0471, European Central Bank.
  6. Alm, James & Bahl, Roy & Murray, Matthew N, 1991. "Tax Base Erosion in Developing Countries," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(4), pages 849-72, July.
  7. Ferreira, Pedro Cavalcanti Gomes & Ellery Junior, Roberto de Góes & Gomes, Victor, 2005. "Produtividade Agregada Brasileira (1970-2000): declínio robusto e fraca recuperação," Economics Working Papers (Ensaios Economicos da EPGE) 594, FGV/EPGE Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
  8. David Card, 1995. "The Wage Curve: A Review," Working Papers 722, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  9. Baltagi, Badi H. & Blien, Uwe & Wolf, Katja, 2009. "New evidence on the dynamic wage curve for Western Germany: 1980-2004," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 47-51, January.
  10. Pedro Cavalcanti Ferreira & JosÈ Luiz Rossi, 2003. "New Evidence from Brazil on Trade Liberalization and Productivity Growth," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(4), pages 1383-1405, November.
  11. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  12. Ulyssea, Gabriel, 2010. "Regulation of entry, labor market institutions and the informal sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 87-99, January.
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