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Legal Minimum Wages and the Wages of Formal and Informal Sector Workers in Costa Rica

Author

Listed:
  • Gindling, T. H.

    () (University of Maryland, Baltimore County)

  • Terrell, Katherine

    (University of Michigan)

Abstract

The dual economy development models hold minimum wages (among other institutions) accountable for persistent dualism. We use 12 years of micro data on thousands workers in Costa Rica to test whether legal minimum wages have a differential impact on wages in the formal sector vs. informal sector, defined in various ways. We find the evidence from Costa Rica is contrary to the assumptions of these models: increases in minimum wages not only raise wages in the urban formal sector (large urban enterprises) who are covered by minimum wage law, but they also increase the wages of all other workers covered by minimum wage legislation in what are traditionally regarded as informal sectors and where the legislation is often considered not to be enforced (i.e., small urban enterprises, large rural enterprises and small rural enterprises). Further, our results suggest that higher legal minimum wages raise the wage of workers in these “informal” sectors more than in the urban formal sector and hence may actually work to reduce average wage differentials between these sectors and the urban formal sector. On the other hand, minimum wages have no significant impact on the wages of workers in another sector that is regarded as informal but which is not covered by minimum wage legislation: the self-employed workers (both urban and rural). Thus, minimum wages may contribute to dualism between the formal and informal, defined as self-employed vs. salaried workers. However, we find no evidence that selfemployed earnings are lowered by minimum wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Gindling, T. H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2004. "Legal Minimum Wages and the Wages of Formal and Informal Sector Workers in Costa Rica," IZA Discussion Papers 1018, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp1018
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Harrison, Ann E & Leamer, Edward, 1997. "Labor Markets in Developing Countries: An Agenda for Research," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 1-19, July.
    2. Pablo Fajnzylber, 2001. "Minimum Wage Effects Throughout the Wage Distribution: Evidence from Brazil's Formal and Informal Sectors," Anais do XXIX Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 29th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 098, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    3. Bell, Linda A, 1997. "The Impact of Minimum Wages in Mexico and Colombia," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(3), pages 102-135, July.
    4. William Maloney & Jairo Mendez, 2004. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages. Evidence from Latin America," NBER Chapters,in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 109-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
    6. Sara Lemos, 2004. "The Effects Of The Minimum Wage On Wages And Employment In Brazil - A Menu Of Minimum Wage Variables," Labor and Demography 0403008, EconWPA.
    7. Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances, 1999. "V-Goods and the Role of the Urban Informal Sector in Development," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 259-288, January.
    8. Lustig, N. & Mcleod, D., 1996. "Minimum Wages and Poverty in Developing Countries : Some Empirical Evidence," Papers 125, Brookings Institution - Working Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jung, Juergen & Tran, Chung, 2012. "The extension of social security coverage in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 439-458.
    2. Jes??s Crespo-Cuaresma & Bal??zs ??gert & Thomas Reininger, 2004. "Interest Rate Pass-Through in New EU Member States: The Case of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2004-671, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    3. Dinkelman, Taryn & Ranchhod, Vimal, 2012. "Evidence on the impact of minimum wage laws in an informal sector: Domestic workers in South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, pages 27-45.
    4. Alaniz, Enrique & Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2011. "The impact of minimum wages on wages, work and poverty in Nicaragua," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(S1), pages 45-59.
    5. ArnabK. Basu & NancyH. Chau & Ravi Kanbur, 2010. "Turning a Blind Eye: Costly Enforcement, Credible Commitment and Minimum Wage Laws," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 244-269, March.
    6. Turnovsky, Stephen J. & Basher, Md.A., 2009. "Fiscal policy and the structure of production in a two-sector developing economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 205-216, March.
    7. Boeri, Tito & Garibaldi, Pietro & Ribeiro, Marta, 2010. "Behind the Lighthouse Effect," IZA Discussion Papers 4890, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. repec:pri:rpdevs:dinkelman_ranchhod_minwages_0710 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Maxim Bouev, 2005. "State Regulations, Job Search and Wage Bargaining: A Study in the Economics of the Informal Sector," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp764, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    10. Paul Ferraro & Merlin Hanauer, 2011. "Protecting Ecosystems and Alleviating Poverty with Parks and Reserves: ‘Win-Win’ or Tradeoffs?," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 48(2), pages 269-286, February.
    11. Alejandro Arrieta & Ariadna García Prado & Giota Panopoulou, 2012. "Enrolling the Self-Employed in Mandatory Health Insurance in Colombia: are we missing other factors?," Documentos de Trabajo - Lan Gaiak Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra 1213, Departamento de Economía - Universidad Pública de Navarra.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dual economy; informal sector; minimum wages; wages; Costa Rica; Latin America;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J38 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Public Policy

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