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Cyclical Informality and Unemployment

  • Mariano Bosch

    (Departamento de Fundamentos del Analisis Economico, Universidad de Alicante)

  • Julen Esteban-Pretel

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

The proportion of informal or unprotected workers in developing countries is large. In developing economies, the fraction of informal workers can be as high as 70% of total employment. For economies with significant informal sectors, business cycle fluctuations and labor market policy interventions can have important effects on the unemployment rate, and also produce large reallocations of workers between "regulated" and "unregulated" jobs. In this paper, we report the main cyclical patterns of one such labor market: Brazil. We then use the empirical regularities found in the data to build, calibrate, and simulate a two-sector search and matching labor market model, in which firms have the choice of hiring workers formally or informally. We find that our model, built in the spirit of traditional search and matching models, can explain well most of the cyclical properties found in the data. We also show that government policies that decrease the cost of formal jobs, or increase the cost of informality, raise the share of formal employment while reducing unemployment.

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File URL: http://www.cirje.e.u-tokyo.ac.jp/research/dp/2009/2009cf613.pdf
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Paper provided by CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo in its series CIRJE F-Series with number CIRJE-F-613.

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Length: 41pages
Date of creation: Feb 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2009cf613
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  1. Ch. Pissarides., 2011. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: Is Wage Stickiness the Answer?," VOPROSY ECONOMIKI, N.P. Redaktsiya zhurnala "Voprosy Economiki", vol. 1.
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  3. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  4. Albrecht, James & Navarro, Lucas & Vroman, Susan, 2006. "The Effects of Labor Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," IZA Discussion Papers 2141, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  9. Maxim Bouev, 2002. "Official Regulations and the Shadow Economy: A Labour Market Approach," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 524, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  10. Fabio Kanczuk, 2004. "Real Interest Rates and Brazilian Business Cycles," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 7(2), pages 436-455, April.
  11. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
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  13. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2001. "Moral Costs, The Informal Sector And Unemployment," Working Papers 01-2001, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  15. Christiano, Lawrence J, 1990. "Solving the Stochastic Growth Model by Linear-Quadratic Approximation and by Value-Function Iteration," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 8(1), pages 23-26, January.
  16. Gustavo Gonzaga, 2003. "Labor Turnover and Labor Legislation in Brazil," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, vol. 0(Fall 2003), pages 165-222, August.
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  19. Jasper Hoek, 2002. "Labor Market Institutions and Restructuring: Evidence from Regulated and Unregulated Labor Markets in Brazil," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 484, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
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