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Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes: An Application to Informality


  • Bosch, Mariano

    () (Inter-American Development Bank)

  • Maloney, William F.

    () (World Bank)


This paper discusses a set of statistics for examining and comparing labor market dynamics based on the estimation of continuous time Markov transition processes. It then uses these to establish stylized facts about dynamic patterns of movement using panel data from Argentina, Brazil and Mexico. The estimates suggest broad commonalities among the three countries, and establish numerous common patterns of worker mobility among sectors of work and inactivity. As such, we offer some of the first comparative work on labor dynamics. The paper then particularly focuses on the role of the informal sector, both for its intrinsic interest, and as a case study illustrating the strengths and limits of the tools. The results suggest that a substantial part of the informal sector, particularly the self-employed, corresponds to voluntary entry although informal salaried work may correspond more closely to the standard queuing view, especially for younger workers.

Suggested Citation

  • Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes: An Application to Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 3038, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3038

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Markov processes; labor market dynamics; Informality;

    JEL classification:

    • C14 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Semiparametric and Nonparametric Methods: General
    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J64 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Unemployment: Models, Duration, Incidence, and Job Search
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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