Macroeconomic adjustment and the labor market in four Latin American countries
Implicit in standard macroeconomics of adjustment is the assumption of well-integrated labor markets that are responsive to relative prices. But segmentation of the labor market is usually said to be an important source of labor market rigidities. In particular, if segmentation involves different degrees of real wage rigidity among different groups in the labor force, nominal devaluation may be ineffective and inequitable in its impact. This paper uses a model of labor market segmentation in which regulations are necessary to distinguish between the formal and informal sectors. Using standard econometric techniques to estimate four simultaneous equations, the authors examine the effect of devaluation on relative wages in four countries. They found that formal wages are more responsive than informal wages to inflation and that devaluation of the exchange rate, by increasing the wage gap, is a source of sluggish labor mobility. In addition, they found that expanding wage differentials during adjustment imposes a greater burden on the poorest workers, making adjustment policies less politically sustainable. Finally, they found evidence to support the hypothesis that nominal devaluation would probably be ineffective with a segmented labor market.
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