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Gross worker flows in the presence of informal labor markets : the Mexican experience 1987-2002

  • Bosch, Mariano
  • Maloney, William

This paper applies recent advances in the study of labor market dynamics to a representative developing country with a large informal or unregulated sector, Mexico. It studies quarterly gross flows of workers over a 15-year period that includes two recoveries and recessions, including the celebrated 1995 Tequila crisis. It finds, first, that the formal or modern salaried sector shows the same procyclical job finding rate and mildly countercyclical separation behavior identified in the recent U.S. literature, and relative wage rigidity, both consistent with Shimer (2005a) and Hall (2005). The unregulated informal sector, however, shows reasonable acyclicality in the job finding rate coupled with sharp countercyclical movements in the job separation rate, consistent with standard small firm dynamics and Davis and Haltiwanger (1992 and 1999). This interaction of regulatory coverage and firm sizes, and patterns of gross worker flows thus sheds suggestive light on the roots of countercyclical job finding behavior in the U.S. literature. Second, the patterns of worker transitions between formality and informality correspond to the job-to-job dynamics observed in the United States and not to the traditional idea of informality constituting the inferior sector of a segmented market. That said, the countercyclical job finding in the formal sector combined with the acyclical job finding in informality doeslead to the latter absorbing relatively more labor during downturns. Third, aggregate employment dynamics vary across the Tequila crisis and the later 2001 slowdown, suggesting that not only the composition of employment, but the nature of the shocks is important to understanding how the labor market adjusts.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 3883.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2006
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3883
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  1. Mortensen, Dale T. & Nagypál, Éva, 2005. "More on Unemployment and Vacancy Fluctuations," IZA Discussion Papers 1765, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J & Samuelson, Larry, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-98, November.
  3. John Kennan, 2005. "Private Information, Wage Bargaining and Employment Fluctuations," 2005 Meeting Papers 555, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  4. Andreas Hornstein & Per Krusell & Giovanni L. Violante, 2005. "Unemployment and vacancy fluctuations in the matching model: inspecting the mechanism," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 19-50.
  5. Robert Shimer, 2012. "Reassessing the Ins and Outs of Unemployment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 15(2), pages 127-148, April.
  6. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Efficiency and Sticky Wages: Evidence from Flows in the Labor Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(3), pages 397-407, August.
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  10. Eran Yashiv, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of the Search and Matching Model," CEP Discussion Papers dp0677, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
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  12. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  13. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  14. 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.
  15. Eran Yashiv, 2005. "Evaluating the performance of the search and matching model," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19906, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  16. Robert Shimer, 2005. "The cyclicality of hires, separations, and job-to-job transitions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 493-508.
  17. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
  18. Yashiv, Eran, 2005. "Evaluating the Performance of the Search and Matching Model," CEPR Discussion Papers 5363, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  19. Davis, Steven J. & Faberman, R. Jason & Haltiwanger, John C., 2005. "The Flow Approach to Labor Markets: New Data Sources, Micro-Macro Links and the Recent Downturn," IZA Discussion Papers 1639, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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