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Enforceability of labor law : evidence from a labor court in Mexico


  • Kaplan, David S.
  • Sadka, Joyce


The authors analyze lawsuits involving publicly-appointed lawyers in a labor court in Mexico to study how a rigid law is enforced. They show that, even after a judge has awarded something to a worker alleging unjust dismissal, the award goes uncollected 56 percent of the time. Workers who are dismissed after working more than seven years, however, do not leave these awards uncollected because their legally-mandated severance payments are larger. A simple theoretical model is used to generate predictions on how lawsuit outcomes should depend on the information available to the worker and on the worker's cost of collecting an award after trial, both of which are determined in part by the worker's lawyer. Differences in outcomes across lawyers are consistent with the hypothesis that firms take advantage both of workers who are poorly informed and of workers who find it more costly to collect an award after winning at trial.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaplan, David S. & Sadka, Joyce, 2008. "Enforceability of labor law : evidence from a labor court in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4483, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4483

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Cowan, Kevin N. & Engel, Eduardo M.R.A. & Micco, Alejandro, 2013. "Effective labor regulation and microeconomic flexibility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 92-104.
    2. Juan C. Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382.
    3. Theodore Eisenberg & Henry S. Farber, 1996. "The Litigious Plaintiff Hypothesis: Case Selection and Resolution," Working Papers 743, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    4. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2005. "Does Legal Enforcement Affect Financial Transactions? The Contractual Channel in Private Equity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(1), pages 223-246.
    5. Gong, Jiong & McAfee, R Preston, 2000. "Pretrial Negotiation, Litigation, and Procedural Rules," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(2), pages 218-238, April.
    6. Almeida, Rita K. & Carneiro, Pedro, 2007. "Inequality and Employment in a Dual Economy: Enforcement of Labor Regulation in Brazil," IZA Discussion Papers 3094, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Fenn, Paul & Rickman, Neil, 1999. "Delay and Settlement in Litigation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(457), pages 476-491, July.
    8. Kaplan, David S. & Gonzalez, Gabriel Martinez & Robertson, Raymond, 2007. "Mexican employment dynamics : evidence from matched firm-worker data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4433, The World Bank.
    9. Davis S. Kaplan & Joyce Sadka & Jorge Luis Silva-Mendez, 2006. "Litigation and Settlement: New Evidence from Labor Courts in Mexico," Working Papers 0606, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
    10. Lanjouw, Jean O & Schankerman, Mark, 2004. "Protecting Intellectual Property Rights: Are Small Firms Handicapped?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(1), pages 45-74, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. David S. Kaplan & Joyce Sadka, 2011. "The Plaintiff's Role in Enforcing a Court Ruling: Evidence from a Labor Court in Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 38198, Inter-American Development Bank.
    2. David S. Kaplan & Joyce Sadka, 2011. "The Plaintiff's Role in Enforcing a Court Ruling: Evidence from a Labor Court in Mexico," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 3193, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Danielle Venn, 2009. "Legislation, Collective Bargaining and Enforcement: Updating the OECD Employment Protection Indicators," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 89, OECD Publishing.
    4. Alan Finkelstein-Shapiro & Miguel Sarzosa, 2012. "Unemployement Protection for Informal Workers in Latin America and the Caribbean," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 4542, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. World Bank, 2013. "Labor Markets for Inclusive Growth," World Bank Other Operational Studies 16579, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Public Sector Corruption&Anticorruption Measures; Information Security&Privacy; Legal Products; Microfinance; Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress;

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