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Contractual Dualism, Market Power and Informality

  • Basu, Arnab K.

    ()

    (Cornell University)

  • Chau, Nancy

    ()

    (Cornell University)

  • Kanbur, Ravi

    ()

    (Cornell University)

Two stylized representations are often found in the academic and policy literature on informality and formality in developing countries. The first is that the informal (or unregulated) sector is more competitive than the formal (or regulated) sector. The second is that contract enforcement is easier in the formal sector than in the informal sector, precisely because the formal sector comes under the purview of state regulation. The basic contention of this paper is that these two representations are not compatible with each other. We develop a search-theoretic model of contractual dualism in the labor market where the inability to commit to contracts in the informal sector leads to employer market power in equilibrium, while an enforced minimum wage in the formal sector provides employers with a commitment technology but which reduces their market power in equilibrium. The contributions of this paper are three-fold. It (i) provides the micro-underpinnings for endogenous determination of employer market power in the formal and informal sectors due to contractual dualism in the two sectors, (ii) offers a unified and coherent setup whereby a host of salient features of developing country labor markets can be explained together, and (iii) places the original Stiglerian prescription of the optimal (unemployment minimizing) minimum wage in the broader context of labor markets where formal job creation is costly, and where formal employment, informal employment, and unemployment co-exist.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5845.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5845
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  1. Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, 2006. "Shadow Sorting," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 10, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    • Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, 2005. "Shadow Sorting," NBER Chapters, in: NBER International Seminar on Macroeconomics 2005, pages 125-163 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Sara Lemos, 2006. "Minimum Wage Effects in a Developing Country," Discussion Papers in Economics 06/1, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
  3. Charlot, Olivier & Malherbet, Franck & Terra, Cristina, 2011. "Product Market Regulation, Firm Size, Unemployment and Informality in Developing Economies," IZA Discussion Papers 5519, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  5. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2010. "Minimum Wages, Globalization, and Poverty in Honduras," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 908-918, June.
  6. James Albrecht & Lucas Navarro & Susan Vroman, 2006. "The Effects of Labor Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," Working Papers gueconwpa~06-06-06, Georgetown University, Department of Economics.
  7. Gong, X. & van Soest, A.H.O. & Villagomez, E., 2000. "Mobility in the Urban Labor Market : A Panel Data Analysis for Mexico," Discussion Paper 2000-46, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  8. Pedro Portugal & Ana Rute Cardoso, 2002. "Disentangling the Minimum Wage Puzzle: An Analysis of Worker Accessions and Separations from Longitudinal Matched Employer-Employee Data Set," Working Papers w200208, Banco de Portugal, Economics and Research Department.
  9. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2007. "The effects of multiple minimum wages throughout the labor market: The case of Costa Rica," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 485-511, June.
  10. Gong, Xiaodong & van Soest, Arthur, 2002. "Wage differentials and mobility in the urban labour market: a panel data analysis for Mexico," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 513-529, September.
  11. Sara lemos, 2004. "The Effects of the Minimum Wage in the Formal and Informal Sectors in Brazil," Discussion Papers in Economics 04/8, Department of Economics, University of Leicester.
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  13. Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2003. "Minimum Wages and Compliance: The Case of Trinidad and Tobago," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(2), pages 427-50, January.
  14. Kanbur, Ravi, 2009. "Conceptualising Informality: Regulation and Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 4186, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. James Heckman & Carmen Pages, 2003. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Working Papers 10129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
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  19. repec:dgr:kubcen:200046 is not listed on IDEAS
  20. Ramey, Garey & Watson, Joel, 1997. "Contractual Fragility, Job Destruction, and Business Cycles," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 873-911, August.
  21. James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Introduction to "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin American and the Caribbean"," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 1-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  22. Gindling, T.H. & Terrell, Katherine, 2009. "Minimum wages, wages and employment in various sectors in Honduras," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 291-303, June.
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