Earnings Inequality and Dynamics in the Presence of Informality: The Case of Brazil

Produced by: 
Munich Personal RePEc Archive
Available from: 
February 2021
Paper author(s): 
Niklas Engbom
Gustavo Gonzaga
Christian Moser
Roberta Olivieri
Topic: 
Labor
Poverty - Inequality - Aid Effectiveness
Year: 
2021

Using a combination of rich administrative and household survey data, we document a series of new facts on earnings inequality and dynamics in a developing country with a large informal sector: Brazil. Since the mid-1990s, both inequality and volatility of earnings have declined significantly in Brazil’s formal sector. Higher-order moments of the distribution of earnings innovations show similar cyclical movements in Brazil as in developed countries like the U.S. Earnings mobility is comparatively high, especially at the bottom of the distribution. Compared to the formal sector, earnings are more volatile in the informal sector. Workers who switch between sectors experience earnings innovations that have a positive mean and are positively skewed when moving to the formal sector but have a negative mean and are negatively skewed when moving to the informal sector. A secular shift of employment toward the less volatile formal sector since the early 2000s has contributed to a decline in the economy-wide volatility of earnings.

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