IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

The Informal Sector Wage Gap: New Evidence Using Quantile Estimations on Panel Data

  • Olivier Bargain

    (UCD Geary Institute)

  • Prudence Kwenda

    (University College Dublin)

This paper provides new evidence on the wage gap between informal and formal salary workers in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico. We use rich datasets that allow us to define informality in a relatively comparable fashion across countries. We compute precise wage differentials by accounting for taxes paid in the formal sector. For each country, we analyze how the sector wage gap varies within groups, between groups and over time. To account for unobserved heterogeneity, we use large (unbalanced) panels to estimate fixed effects models at the mean and at different quantiles of the wage distribution. We find that unobserved heterogeneity explains a large part of the (conditional) wage gap. The remaining informal sector wage penalty is large in the lower part of the distribution but almost disappears at the top. The penalty primarily concerns young workers and is found to be procyclical. We carefully investigate the robustness of these results and discuss their policy implications as well as regularities across countries.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: First version, 2009
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 200916.

in new window

Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 10 Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200916
Contact details of provider: Postal: Arts Annexe, Belfield, Dublin 4
Phone: +353 1 7164615
Fax: +353 1 7161108
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Arbex, Marcelo & Galvao, Antonio F. & Gomes, Fábio Augusto Reis, 2010. "Heterogeneity in the Returns to Education and Informal Activities," Insper Working Papers wpe_216, Insper Working Paper, Insper Instituto de Ensino e Pesquisa.
  2. Koenker, Roger, 2004. "Quantile regression for longitudinal data," Journal of Multivariate Analysis, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 74-89, October.
  3. Abrevaya, Jason & Dahl, Christian M, 2008. "The Effects of Birth Inputs on Birthweight," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 26, pages 379-397.
  4. Huber, Martin & Melly, Blaise, 2011. "Quantile Regression in the Presence of Sample Selection," Economics Working Paper Series 1109, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  5. Jaime Saavedra & Alberto Chong, 1999. "Structural reform, institutions and earnings: Evidence from the formal and informal sectors in urban Peru," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 95-116.
  6. Sergio Firpo, 2007. "Efficient Semiparametric Estimation of Quantile Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 259-276, 01.
  7. Pratap, Sangeeta & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "Are labor markets segmented in developing countries? A semiparametric approach," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(7), pages 1817-1841, October.
  8. Almeida, Rita & Carneiro, Pedro, 2009. "Enforcement of labor regulation and firm size," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 28-46, March.
  9. Kingdon, Geeta Gandhi & Knight, John, 2004. "Unemployment in South Africa: The Nature of the Beast," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 391-408, March.
  10. �ureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2010. "Value-Added Taxes, Chain Effects, and Informality," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 195-221, October.
  11. Ulyssea, Gabriel, 2010. "Regulation of entry, labor market institutions and the informal sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 87-99, January.
  12. Yamada, Gustavo, 1996. "Urban Informal Employment and Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 289-314, January.
  13. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes: An Application to Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 3038, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Launov, Andrey & Günther, Isabel, 2006. "Competitive and Segmented Informal Labor Markets," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2006 16, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  15. Richard Blundell & Amanda Gosling & Hidehiko Ichimura & Costas Meghir, 2006. "Changes in the Distribution of Male and Female Wages Accounting for Employment Composition Using Bounds," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-420, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  16. Gong, Xiaodong & Van Soest, Arthur & Villagomez, Elizabeth, 2004. "Mobility in the Urban Labor Market: A Panel Data Analysis for Mexico," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 53(1), pages 1-36, October.
  17. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Carlos Henrique Corseuil, 2001. "The Impact of Regulations on Brazilian Labor Market Performance," Research Department Publications 3124, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  18. Maria Tannuri-Pianto & Donald Pianto, 2004. "Informal employment in Bolivia: A lost proposition?," Econometric Society 2004 Latin American Meetings 149, Econometric Society.
  19. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  20. 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.
  21. James Albrecht & Lucas Navarro & Susan Vroman, 2009. "The Effects of Labour Market Policies in an Economy with an Informal Sector," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(539), pages 1105-1129, 07.
  22. Heckman, James J & Sedlacek, Guilherme, 1985. "Heterogeneity, Aggregation, and Market Wage Functions: An Empirical Model of Self-selection in the Labor Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(6), pages 1077-1125, December.
  23. Ricardo Paes de Barros & Carlos Henrique Corseuil, 2001. "The Impact of Regulations on Brazilian Labor Market Performance," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 43198, Inter-American Development Bank.
  24. Moshe Buchinsky, 1998. "The dynamics of changes in the female wage distribution in the USA: a quantile regression approach," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 13(1), pages 1-30.
  25. Francisco Carneiro & Andrew Henley, 1998. "Wage determination in Brazil: The growth of union bargaining power and informal employment," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(4), pages 117-138.
  26. Cunningham, Wendy V. & Maloney, William F., 1998. "Heterogeneity among Mexico's micro-enterprises - an application of factor and cluster analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1999, The World Bank.
  27. El Badaoui, Eliane & Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2007. "Is There an Informal Employment Wage Penalty? Evidence from South Africa," IZA Discussion Papers 3151, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  28. Fernando Botelho & Vladimir Ponczek, 2006. "Segmentation In The Brazilian Labor Market," Anais do XXXIV Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 34th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 20, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  29. Antman, Francisca & McKenzie, David J., 2005. "Earnings mobility and measurement error : a pseudo-panel approach," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3745, The World Bank.
  30. El Badaoui, Eliane & Strobl, Eric & Walsh, Frank, 2010. "The formal sector wage premium and firm size," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 37-47, January.
  31. Marcouiller, Douglas & Ruiz de Castilla, Veronica & Woodruff, Christopher, 1997. "Formal Measures of the Informal-Sector Wage Gap in Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 367-92, January.
  32. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William, 2008. "Cyclical movements in unemployment and informality in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4648, The World Bank.
  33. Albrecht, James & van Vuuren, Aico & Vroman, Susan, 2004. "Decomposing the Gender Wage Gap in the Netherlands with Sample Selection Adjustments," IZA Discussion Papers 1400, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  34. Funkhouser, Edward, 1997. "Mobility and Labor Market Segmentation: The Urban Labor Market in El Salvador," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(1), pages 123-53, October.
  35. Gong, Xiaodong & van Soest, Arthur, 2002. "Wage differentials and mobility in the urban labour market: a panel data analysis for Mexico," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 513-529, September.
  36. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina, 2004. "Determinants and Poverty Implications of Informal Sector Work in Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(2), pages 347-68, January.
  37. Geeta Kingdon & John Knight, 2005. "Unemployment in South Africa, 1995-2003: Causes, Problems and Policies," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-010, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  38. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  39. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
  40. Joshua Angrist & Victor Chernozhukov & Ivan Fernandez-Val, 2004. "Quantile Regression under Misspecification, with an Application to the U.S. Wage Structure," NBER Working Papers 10428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  41. Arias, Omar & Khamis, Melanie, 2008. "Comparative Advantage, Segmentation and Informal Earnings: A Marginal Treatment Effects Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 3916, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  42. François Bourguignon & Francisco Ferreira & Phillippe Leite, 2008. "Beyond Oaxaca–Blinder: Accounting for differences in household income distributions," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 117-148, June.
  43. William T. Dickens & Kevin Lang, 1984. "A Test of Dual Labor Market Theory," NBER Working Papers 1314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  44. Paul Cichello & Gary Fields & Murray Leibbrandt, 2003. "Earnings and Employment Dynamics for Africans in Post-apartheid South Africa: A Panel Study of KwaZulu-Natal," Working Papers 03077, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
  45. Immervoll, Herwig & Levy, Horacio & Nogueira, José Ricardo & O'Donoghue, Cathal & Siqueira, Rozane Bezerra de, 2006. "The Impact of Brazil's Tax-Benefit System on Inequality and Poverty," IZA Discussion Papers 2114, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  46. Olivier Bargain & Prudence Kwenda, 2011. "Earnings Structures, Informal Employment, And Self‐Employment: New Evidence From Brazil, Mexico, And South Africa," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 57, pages S100-S122, 05.
  47. Magnac, Th, 1991. "Segmented or Competitive Labor Markets," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(1), pages 165-87, January.
  48. Johannes P. Jütting & Jante Parlevliet & Theodora Xenogiani, 2008. "Informal Employment Re-loaded," OECD Development Centre Working Papers 266, OECD Publishing.
  49. Gindling, T H, 1991. "Labor Market Segmentation and the Determination of Wages in the Public, Private-Formal, and Informal Sectors in San Jose, Costa Rica," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(3), pages 584-605, April.
  50. Ivan A. Canay, 2011. "A simple approach to quantile regression for panel data," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 14(3), pages 368-386, October.
  51. Fields, Gary S., 2007. "Labor market policy in developing countries : a selective review of the literature and needs for the future," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4362, The World Bank.
  52. Bargain, Olivier & Melly, Blaise, 2008. "Public Sector Pay Gap in France: New Evidence Using Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 3427, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:200916. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Geary Tech)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.