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Gross Worker Flows in the Presence of Informal Labor Markets: Evidence from Mexico, 1987-2002


  • Bosch, Mariano

    () (Inter-American Development Bank)

  • Maloney, William F.

    () (World Bank)


This paper applies recent advances in the study of labor market dynamics to a representative developing country with a large unregulated of “informal” sector. It confirms the relevance of the recent mainstream models and debates surrounding gross worker flows to the developing country context, and offers a new view of the role of the informal sector and its role in labor market adjustments. It finds, first, that the formal salaried sector shows the same procyclical job finding rate and mildly countercyclical separation behavior identified in the recent US literature by Shimer (2005a) and Hall (2005). The unregulated informal sector, however, shows reasonable acyclicality in the job finding rate coupled with sharp countercyclical movements in the job separation rate, consistent with standard small firm dynamics and Davis and Haltiwanger (1992 and 1999). The differential behavior of regulated and unregulated sectors, and the finding of relative wage rigidity in the former, sheds suggestive light on the debate surrounding countercyclical job finding behavior in the US. Second, the patterns of worker transitions between all sectors, formal and informal correspond to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the US and not to the traditional idea of informality constituting the inferior sector of a segmented market. That said, the counter cyclical job finding in the formal sector combined with the acyclical job finding in informality does lead to the latter absorbing relatively more labor during downturns, even as its increased separation rates drive movements in unemployment.

Suggested Citation

  • Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Gross Worker Flows in the Presence of Informal Labor Markets: Evidence from Mexico, 1987-2002," IZA Discussion Papers 2864, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2864

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John Kennan, 2010. "Private Information, Wage Bargaining and Employment Fluctuations," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(2), pages 633-664.
    2. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Unemployment and vacancy fluctuations in the matching model: inspecting the mechanism," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 19-50.
    3. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
    4. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    5. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Efficiency and Sticky Wages: Evidence from Flows in the Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 397-407, August.
    6. Yashiv, Eran, 2006. "Evaluating the performance of the search and matching model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(4), pages 909-936, May.
    7. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John C., 2005. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources, Micro-Macro Links and the Recent Downturn," IZA Discussion Papers 1639, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transitions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 493-508.
    9. Dale Mortensen & Eva Nagypal, 2007. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 10(3), pages 327-347, July.
    10. Christopher J. Flinn & James J. Heckman, 1982. "Models for the Analysis of Labor Force Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 0857, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Steven J. Davis & R. Jason Faberman & John Haltiwanger, 2006. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources and Micro-Macro Links," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(3), pages 3-26, Summer.
    12. Timothy Dunne & Mark J. Roberts & Larry Samuelson, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U. S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-698.
    13. Flinn, C. & Heckman, J., 1982. "New methods for analyzing structural models of labor force dynamics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 115-168, January.
    14. Michael Pries & Richard Rogerson, 2005. "Hiring Policies, Labor Market Institutions, and Labor Market Flows," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(4), pages 811-839, August.
    15. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-142, March.
    16. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Robert Duval Hernández & Pedro Orraca, 2008. "A Cohort Analysis of Labor Participation in Mexico, 1987-2008," Working papers DTE 440, CIDE, División de Economía.
    2. Joanna Tyrowicz & Stanisław Cichocki, 2011. "Employed unemployed? On shadow employment in transition," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 259-281, May.
    3. Pagés, Carmen & Stampini, Marco, 2009. "No education, no good jobs? Evidence on the relationship between education and labor market segmentation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 387-401, September.
    4. John P. Haisken-DeNew & Maren M. Michaelsen, 2011. "Migration Magnet: The Role of Work Experience in Rural-Urban Wage Diff erentials in Mexico," Ruhr Economic Papers 0263, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    5. Ruy Lama & Carlos Urrutia, 2011. "Employment Protection and Business Cycles in Emerging Economies," IMF Working Papers 11/293, International Monetary Fund.
    6. Tansel, Aysit & Kan, Elif Oznur, 2011. "Labor mobility across the formal/informal divide in Turkey: evidence from individual level data," MPRA Paper 35672, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Azuara, Oliver, 2011. "Effect of universal health coverage on marriage, cohabitation and labor force participation," MPRA Paper 35074, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Arseneau, David M. & Epstein, Brendan, 2014. "Offshoring, Mismatch, and Labor Market Outcomes," International Finance Discussion Papers 1118, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    9. Sahoo, Bimal & Neog, Bhaskar Jyoti, 2015. "Heterogeneity and participation in Informal employment among non-cultivator workers in India," MPRA Paper 68136, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. A. Kerem Co?ar & Nezih Guner & James Tybout, 2016. "Firm Dynamics, Job Turnover, and Wage Distributions in an Open Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(3), pages 625-663, March.
    11. repec:eme:jespps:jes-06-2015-0103 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Michaelsen, Maren M. & Haisken-DeNew, John P., 2011. "Migration Magnet: The Role of Work Experience in Rural-Urban Wage Differentials in Mexico," Ruhr Economic Papers 263, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    13. Azuara, Oliver & Marinescu, Ioana, 2013. "Informality and the expansion of social protection programs: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 938-950.
    14. Azuara, Oliver & Marinescu, Ioana, 2011. "Informality and the expansion of social protection programs," MPRA Paper 35073, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. repec:zbw:rwirep:0263 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Carmen Pagés & Lucía Madrigal, 2008. "Is Informality a Good Measure of Job Quality?: Evidence from Job Satisfaction Data," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1098, Inter-American Development Bank.
    17. Carmen Pagés-Serra & Marco Stampini, 2007. "¿Sin formación no hay buenos empleos? Elementos de juicio sobre la relación entre la formación y la segmentación del mercado laboral," Research Department Publications 4562, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.

    More about this item


    gross worker flows; labor market dynamics; informality;

    JEL classification:

    • J41 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Labor Contracts
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • J6 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers

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