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Cyclical Movements in Unemployment and Informality in Developing Countries

  • Bosch, Mariano

    ()

    (Inter-American Development Bank)

  • Maloney, William F.

    ()

    (World Bank)

This paper analyzes the cyclical properties of worker flows in Brazil and Mexico, two important developing countries with large unregulated or “informal” sectors. It generates three stylized facts that are critical to the accurate modeling of the sector and which suggest the need to rethink the approaches to date. First, the unemployment rate is countercyclical essentially because job separations of informal workers increase dramatically in recessions. Second, the share of formal employment is countercyclical because of the difficulty of finding formal jobs from inactivity, unemployment and other informal jobs during recessions rather than because of increased separation from formal jobs. Third, flows from formality into informality are not countercyclical, but, if anything, pro-cyclical. Together, these challenge the conventional wisdom that has guided the modeling the sector that informal workers are primarily those rationed out of the formal labor market. They also offer a new synthesis of the mechanics of the cyclical adjustment process. Finally, the paper offers estimates of the moments of worker flows series that are needed for calibration.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3514.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3514
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  1. Christopher Pissarides, 2007. "The unemployment volatility puzzle: is wage stickiness the answer?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4460, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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  3. Francisca Antman & David J. McKenzie, 2007. "Earnings Mobility and Measurement Error: A Pseudo-Panel Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 125-161.
  4. Barbara Petrongolo & Christopher A. Pissarides, 2008. "The Ins and Outs of European Unemployment," CEP Discussion Papers dp0853, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  6. Christopher J. Flinn & James J. Heckman, 1982. "Are Unemployment and Out of the Labor Force Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?," NBER Working Papers 0979, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Aureo de Paula & Jose A Sheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001663, UCLA Department of Economics.
  8. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William, 2006. "Gross worker flows in the presence of informal labor markets : the Mexican experience 1987-2002," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3883, The World Bank.
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  12. Mortensen, Dale T & Pissarides, Christopher A, 1994. "Job Creation and Job Destruction in the Theory of Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 397-415, July.
  13. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2006. "Does Tax Evasion Affect Unemployment and Educational Choice?," Working Papers 12-2003, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
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  18. Baker, Michael, 1992. "Unemployment Duration: Compositional Effects and Cyclical Variability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 313-21, March.
  19. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William, 2007. "Comparative analysis of labor market dynamics using markov processes : an application to informality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4429, The World Bank.
  20. Fiess, Norbert M. & Fugazza, Marco & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Informal Labor Markets and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Göttingen 2007 6, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
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  24. Michael W. Elsby & Ryan Michaels & Gary Solon, 2007. "The Ins and Outs of Cyclical Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 12853, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Bosch, Mariano & Goni, Edwin & Maloney, William F., 2007. "The Determinants of Rising Informality in Brazil: Evidence from Gross Worker Flows," IZA Discussion Papers 2970, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  26. Henley, Andrew & Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Carneiro, Francisco G., 2006. "On defining and measuring the informal sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3866, The World Bank.
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  35. 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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  37. Guillermo E. Perry & William F. Maloney & Omar S. Arias & Pablo Fajnzylber & Andrew D. Mason & Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, 2007. "Informality : Exit and Exclusion," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6730, December.
  38. Loayza, Norman V. & Rigolini, Jamele, 2006. "Informality trends and cycles," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4078, The World Bank.
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