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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. 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).
  2. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & López-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," CEPR Discussion Papers 2953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2001. "Moral Costs, The Informal Sector And Unemployment," Working Papers 01-2001, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  4. Gustavo Gonzaga, 2003. "Labor Turnover and Labor Legislation in Brazil," Textos para discussão 475, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
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  6. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2003. "Does Tax Evation Affect Unemployment and Educational Choice?," Working Paper Series 2003:22, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
  7. Rita Almeida & Pedro Carneiro, 2006. "Enforcement of regulation, informal labor and firm performance," CeMMAP working papers CWP02/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  8. Barbara Petrongolo & Christopher Pissarides, 2000. "Looking into the black box: a survey of the matching function," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2122, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Christopher Pissarides, 2007. "The unemployment volatility puzzle: is wage stickiness the answer?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4460, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  10. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  11. 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.
  12. Henley, Andrew & Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Carneiro, Francisco G., 2006. "On defining and measuring the informal sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3866, The World Bank.
  13. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
  14. 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.
  15. Robert Shimer, 2007. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 13421, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The Cyclical Behavior of Equilibrium Unemployment and Vacancies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 25-49, March.
  17. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
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