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Self Employment in Developing Countries: a Search-Equilibrium Approach

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  • Renata Narita

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Abstract

Self employment comprises around thirty percent of the workforce in Latin America. Most self employed evade payroll taxes, have low education, and run small businesses requiring low skills. I develop and estimate a life cycle search model where workers can be wage earners in the formal or informal sector, self employed or unemployed. Firms in the formal sector pay payroll and severance taxes, and in the informal sector, they can be fined. The estimated model (i) reproduces well the composition of workers over the life cycle as observed in Brazilian Labour Force data, and (ii) shows that the job value of the self employed is similar to that of informal wage earners. The model is used as a tool to evaluate the welfare impact of labour market policies, where self employment may be an option. When simulating an increase in the cost of informality by ten percent, results showed (i) small impact on employment composition and informality; (ii) significant cost pass-through to wages in the informal sector, meaning a reduction in the lowest wages in the economy, hence higher wage inequality. On the other hand, (iii) it led to substantial improvement in the welfare of formal firms and of all workers. These results prove that taking into account labour market frictions is important in welfare analyses of policies in multisectoral labour markets. As simulations which increase the cost of informality suggest, stricter enforcement of labour regulations (at least to a certain degree) can be a way towards efficient labor markets.

Suggested Citation

  • Renata Narita, 2013. "Self Employment in Developing Countries: a Search-Equilibrium Approach," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2013_21, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
  • Handle: RePEc:spa:wpaper:2013wpecon21
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Emin Dinlersoz & Henry Hyatt & Hubert Janicki, 2019. "Who Works for Whom? Worker Sorting in a Model of Entrepreneurship with Heterogeneous Labor Markets," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 34, pages 244-266, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Emin Dinlersoz & Henry Hyatt & Hubert Janicki, 2019. "Who Works for Whom? Worker Sorting in a Model of Entrepreneurship with Heterogeneous Labor Markets," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 34, pages 244-266, October.
    2. Emin Dinlersoz & Henry Hyatt & Hubert Janicki, 2019. "Who Works for Whom? Worker Sorting in a Model of Entrepreneurship with Heterogeneous Labor Markets," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 34, pages 244-266, October.
    3. Costas Meghir & Renata Narita & Jean-Marc Robin, 2015. "Wages and Informality in Developing Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1509-1546, April.
    4. repec:eee:dyncon:v:105:y:2019:i:c:p:182-202 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Adams, Abass & Cantah, William Godfred & Wiafe, Emmanuel Agyapong, 2014. "Income Insecurity, Job Insecurity and the Drift towards Self-employment in SSA," MPRA Paper 59615, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Finkelstein-Shapiro, Alan & Sarzosa, Miguel, 2013. "Unemployement Protection for Informal Workers in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4542, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Bobba, Matteo & Flabbi, Luca & Levy Algazi, Santiago, 2017. "Labor Market Search, Informality and Schooling Investments," IZA Discussion Papers 11170, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    8. repec:nea:journl:y:2017:i:33:p:12-27 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Albertini, Julien & Terriau, Anthony, 2019. "Informality over the life-cycle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 182-202.
    10. Jonathan Lain, 2016. "Discrimination in a Search-Match Model with Self-Employment," CSAE Working Paper Series 2016-02, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    11. repec:spr:izamig:v:9:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1186_s40176-019-0140-3 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Self employment; Occupational choice; Informal Sector; Job Search; Labour market welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • J30 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - General
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • J42 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Monopsony; Segmented Labor Markets
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General

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