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The Informal Labor Market in Colombia: identification and characterization

Abstract

In this paper, we study the extent and nature of informality in Colombia by using the new chapter on informality in the Encuesta Continua de Hogares (ECH) from August 2006 to December 2006, which includes new questions deepening the information on coverage of social protection benefits, labor market trajectories, and motivations for sector of employment. The availability of these new data allows us to measure informality in several ways and understand the differences and implications of using various definitions. We show that social security contributions is a reasonable measure of informality as it is a good indicator that the individual has the entire package of benefits associated with formal employment.

We then use this definition of informality to characterize informal workers in various dimensions that include socio-demographic characteristics, characteristics of the firm and job satisfaction measures. The main objective is to understand what types of individuals belong to formal and informal sectors, study the incentives and motivations of workers for belonging to one or other segment of the labor market, and analyze the consequences of not being covered by the regulatory framework. In doing this, we hope to gain some understanding about how different policy interventions could influence individuals’ occupation choices and workers’ well-being.

In this paper, we study the extent and nature of informality in Colombia by using the new chapter on informality in the Encuesta Continua de Hogares (ECH) from August 2006 to December 2006, which includes new questions deepening the information on coverage of social protection benefits, labor market trajectories, and motivations for sector of employment. The availability of these new data allows us to measure informality in several ways and understand the differences and implications of using various definitions. We show that social security contributions is a reasonable measure of informality as it is a good indicator that the individual has the entire package of benefits associated with formal employment.

We then use this definition of informality to characterize informal workers in various dimensions that include socio-demographic characteristics, characteristics of the firm and job satisfaction measures. The main objective is to understand what types of individuals belong to formal and informal sectors, study the incentives and motivations of workers for belonging to one or other segment of the labor market, and analyze the consequences of not being covered by the regulatory framework. In doing this, we hope to gain some understanding about how different policy interventions could influence individuals’ occupation choices and workers’ well-being.

Autores:  Bernal, Raquel
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