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Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality

Author

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  • Haanwinckel, Daniel

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Soares, Rodrigo R.

    (Insper, São Paulo)

Abstract

We develop a search model of informal labor markets with worker and firm heterogeneity, intra-firm bargaining with imperfect substitutability across types of workers, and a comprehensive set of labor regulations, including minimum wage. Stylized facts associated with the informal sector, such as smaller firms and lower wages, emerge endogenously as firms and workers decide whether to comply with regulations. Imperfect substitutability across types of workers and decreasing returns to scale enable the model to reproduce empirical patterns incompatible with existing frameworks in the literature: the presence of skilled and unskilled workers in the formal and informal sectors, the rising share of skilled workers by firm size, and the declining formal wage premium by skill level. These features also allow us to analyze the equilibrium responses to changes in the demand and supply of different types of labor. We estimate the model using Brazilian data and show that it closely reproduces the decline in informality observed between 2003 and 2012. The change in the composition of the labor force appears as the main driving force behind this phenomenon. We illustrate the use of the model for policy analysis by assessing the effectiveness of a progressive payroll tax in reducing informality.

Suggested Citation

  • Haanwinckel, Daniel & Soares, Rodrigo R., 2016. "Workforce Composition, Productivity, and Labor Regulations in a Compensating Differentials Theory of Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 9951, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9951
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    2. Andres García-Suaza & Fernando Jaramillo & Marlon Salazar, 2023. "Tax policies, informality, and real wage rigidities," Documentos de Trabajo 20744, Universidad del Rosario.
    3. Cristina Fernández & Leonardo Villar, 2016. "A Taxonomy of Colombia’s Informal Labor Market," Coyuntura Económica, Fedesarrollo, vol. 46(1), pages 15-50, June.
    4. Matteo Bobba & Luca Flabbi & Santiago Levy, 2022. "Labor Market Search, Informality, And Schooling Investments," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 63(1), pages 211-259, February.
    5. Niklas Engbom & Gustavo Gonzaga & Christian Moser & Roberta Olivieri, 2022. "Earnings inequality and dynamics in the presence of informality: The case of Brazil," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 13(4), pages 1405-1446, November.
    6. Erosa, Andrés & Fuster, Luisa & Martinez, Tomás R., 2023. "Public financing with financial frictions and underground economy," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 20-36.
    7. Brenda Samaniego de la Parra & Andrea Otero-Cortés & Leonardo Fabio Morales, 2021. "The Labor Market Effects of Part-Time Contributions to Social Security: Evidence from Colombia," Documentos de trabajo sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 302, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    8. Rodrigo R. Soares & Daniel Haanwinckel, 2017. "Fighting employment informality with schooling," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 394-394, October.
    9. Sergio Pinheiro Firpo & Alysson Lorenzon Portella, 2024. "The labor market in Brazil, 2001–2022," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 4412-4412, April.
    10. Flabbi, Luca & Tejada, Mauricio M., 2023. "Are informal self-employment and informal employment as employee behaviorally distinct labor force states?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 231(C).
    11. Dami'an Vergara, 2022. "Minimum Wages and Optimal Redistribution," Papers 2202.00839, arXiv.org, revised Dec 2022.
    12. Andrea Otero-Cortés, 2022. "Heterogeneous Returns of Informality: Evidence From Brazil," Documentos de Trabajo Sobre Economía Regional y Urbana 20176, Banco de la República, Economía Regional.
    13. Esteban-Pretel, Julen & Kitao, Sagiri, 2021. "Labor Market Policies in a Dual Economy," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).
    14. César, Andrés & Falcone, Guillermo & Gasparini, Leonardo, 2021. "Costs and benefits of trade shocks: Evidence from Chilean local labor markets," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(C).
    15. Felipe Lobel, 2022. "The Unequal Incidence of Payroll Taxes with Imperfect Competition: Theory and Evidence," Papers 2210.15776, arXiv.org.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    informality; labor market; search; minimum wage; compensating differentials; Brazil;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • 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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