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Labor market"rigidity"and the success of economic reforms across more than one hundred countries

  • Forteza, Alvaro
  • Rama, Martin

The authors show that labor market policies and institutions affect the effectiveness of economic reform programs. They compare annual growth rates across 119 countries, using data from 449 World Bank adjustment credits and loans between 1980 and 1996. The results indicate that countries with relatively rigid labor markets experienced deeper recessions before adjustment and slower recoveries afterward. The results also disentangle the mechanisms through which labor market rigidity operates. They find that minimum wages and mandatory benefits do not hurt growth. But the relative size of organized labor (in government and elsewhere) appears to matter. Labor market rigidity seems to be relevant more for political reasons than for economic reasons. The authors'findings suggest that not enough attention has been paid to vocal groups (urban, middle-class groups) that stand to lose from economic reform. The implications of the findings for policymakers: There should be less focus on deregulating the labor market and more on defusing the opposition of (vocal) losers. The results are robust to changes in measurement, controls, and sample, and do not suffer from self-selection bias.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2521.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2521
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  1. Blundell, Richard & Bond, Stephen, 1998. "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 87(1), pages 115-143, August.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Allan Drazen, 1989. "Why are Stabilizations Delayed?," NBER Working Papers 3053, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Rama, Martin, 1997. " Labor Market Institutions and the Second-Best Tariff," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 99(2), pages 299-314, June.
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  13. Calvo, Guillermo A. & Vegh, Carlos A., 1999. "Inflation stabilization and bop crises in developing countries," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 24, pages 1531-1614 Elsevier.
  14. Morris Goldstein & Peter Montiel, 1986. "Evaluating Fund Stabilization Programs with Multicountry Data: Some Methodological Pitfalls (Evaluation des programmes de stabilisation du Fonds à partir de données sur divers pays: quelques écueils," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 33(2), pages 304-344, June.
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  18. repec:umd:umdeco:rodriguez9901 is not listed on IDEAS
  19. Rama, Martin, 1999. "Public Sector Downsizing: An Introduction," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(1), pages 1-22, January.
  20. Carmen Pagés-Serra, 2000. "The Cost of Job Security Regulation: Evidence from Latin American Labor Markets," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
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  28. Fernandez, Raquel & Rodrik, Dani, 1991. "Resistance to Reform: Status Quo Bias in the Presence of Individual-Specific Uncertainty," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1146-55, December.
  29. Francisco Rodriguez & Dani Rodrik, 1999. "Trade Policy and Economic Growth: A Skeptic's Guide to Cross-National Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7081, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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