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Cyclical Informality and Unemployment

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  • Mariano Bosch

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

  • Julen Esteban-Pretel

    (Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mariano Bosch & Julen Esteban-Pretel, 2009. "Cyclical Informality and Unemployment," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-613, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  • Handle: RePEc:tky:fseres:2009cf613
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Alonso Ortiz, Jorge & Leal Ordóñez, Julio C., 2011. "Taxes, Transfers and the Distribution of Employment in Mexico," MPRA Paper 32014, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Lisi GAETANO, 2010. "The Unemployment Volatility Puzzle: The Role Of The Underground Economy," Journal of Applied Economic Sciences, Spiru Haret University, Faculty of Financial Management and Accounting Craiova, vol. 5(2(12)/Sum), pages 59-69.
    3. 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.
    4. Margolis, David N. & Navarro, Lucas & Robalino, David A., 2012. "Unemployment Insurance, Job Search and Informal Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 6660, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    5. Gaetano Lisi & Maurizio Pugno, 2015. "A matching model of endogenous growth and underground firms," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 11(4), pages 347-369, December.
    6. Shutao Cao & Enchuan Shao & Pedro Silos, 2010. "Fixed-Term and Permanent Employment Contracts: Theory and Evidence," CESifo Working Paper Series 3150, CESifo.
    7. Lisi, Gaetano, 2011. "Matching Models of Equilibrium Unemployment: An Overview," MPRA Paper 30191, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Shutao Cao & Enchuan Shao & Pedro Silos, 2010. "Fixed-term and permanent employment contracts: theory and evidence," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2010-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
    9. Giuseppe Ciccarone & Francesco Giuli, 2012. "Underground labor, search frictions and macroeconomic fluctuations," Departmental Working Papers of Economics - University 'Roma Tre' 0159, Department of Economics - University Roma Tre.
    10. Alonso-Ortiz, Jorge & Leal Ordonez, Julio, 2013. "The Elasticity of Informality to Taxes and Transfers," MPRA Paper 49568, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Roxana Maurizio, 2015. "Transitions to Formality and Declining Inequality: Argentina and Brazil in the 2000s," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 46(5), pages 1047-1079, September.
    12. World Bank & International Finance Corporation, "undated". "Doing Business in the East African Community 2011," World Bank Other Operational Studies 27390, The World Bank.

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