New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2012‒03‒14
eight papers chosen by

  1. Educational Upgrading and Returns to Skills in Latin America. Evidence from a Supply-Demand Framework, 1990-2010 By Leonardo Gasparini; Sebastián Galiani; Guillermo Cruces; Pablo Acosta
  2. Credit at Times of Stress: Latin American Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis - Working Paper 289 By Liliana Rojas-Suarez and Carlos Montoro
  3. Informalidad laboral en las áreas urbanas de Colombia By Luis Armando Galvis
  4. Trends in Tariff Reforms and Trends in the Structure of Wages By Sebastián Galiani; Guido Porto
  5. Child malnutrition and antenatal care: Evidence from three Latin American countries By Ramirez, N.F.; Gamboa, L.F.; Bedi, A.S.; Sparrow, R.A.
  6. Segregación Escolar por Nivel Socioeconómico. Midiendo el Fenómeno y Explorando sus Determinantes By Emmanuel Vazquez
  7. Relación de Kuznets en América Latina. Explorando más allá de la media condicional By Javier Alejo
  8. Dinámica de la Demanda Laboral en la Industria Manufacturera Colombiana 1993-2009: una Estimación Panel VAR By Carlos Medina; Christian M. Posso; Jorge A.Tamayo; Emma Monsalve

  1. By: Leonardo Gasparini (CEDLAS - UNLP); Sebastián Galiani (Washington University in St. Louis); Guillermo Cruces (CEDLAS-UNLP and CONICET); Pablo Acosta (World Bank, Human Development, Latin America and Caribbean Region)
    Abstract: It has been argued that a factor behind the decline in income inequality in Latin America in the 2000s was the educational upgrading of its labor force. Between 1990 and 2010, the proportion of the labor force in the region with at least secondary education increased from 40 to 60 percent. Concurrently, returns to secondary education completion fell throughout the past two decades, while the 2000s saw a reversal in the increase in the returns to tertiary education experienced in the 1990s. This paper studies the evolution of wage differentials and the trends in the supply of workers by educational level for 16 Latin American countries between 1990 and 2000. The analysis estimates the relative contribution of supply and demand factors behind recent trends in skill premia for tertiary and secondary educated workers. Supplyside factors seem to have limited explanatory power relative to demandside factors, and are only relevant to explain part of the fall in wage premia for highschool graduates. Although there is significant heterogeneity in individual country experiences, on average the trend reversal in labor demand in the 2000s can be partially attributed to the recent boom in commodity prices that could favor the unskilled (nontertiary educated) workforce, although employment patterns by sector suggest that other withinsector forces are also at play, such as technological diffusion or skill mismatches that may reduce the labor productivity of highlyeducated workers.
    Date: 2012–03
  2. By: Liliana Rojas-Suarez and Carlos Montoro
    Abstract: The financial systems in emerging market economies during the 2008–09 global financial crisis performed much better than in previous crisis episodes, albeit with significant differences across regions. For example, real credit growth in Asia and Latin America was less affected than in Central and Eastern Europe. This paper identifies the factors at both the country and the bank levels that contributed to the behavior of real credit growth in Latin America during the global financial crisis. The resilience of real credit during the crisis was highly related to policies, measures and reforms implemented in the pre-crisis period. In particular, we find that the best explanatory variables were those that gauged the economy’s capacity to withstand an external financial shock. Key were balance sheet measures such as the economy’s overall currency mismatches and external debt ratios (measuring either total debt or short-term debt). The quality of pre-crisis credit growth mattered as much as its rate of expansion. Credit expansions that preserved healthy balance sheet measures (the “quality” dimension) proved to be more sustainable. Variables signalling the capacity to set countercyclical monetary and fiscal policies during the crisis were also important determinants. Moreover, financial soundness characteristics of Latin American banks, such as capitalization, liquidity and bank efficiency, also played a role in explaining the dynamics of real credit during the crisis. We also found that foreign banks and banks which had expanded credit growth more before the crisis were also those that cut credit most. The methodology used in this paper includes the construction of indicators of resilience of real credit growth to adverse external shocks in a large number of emerging markets, not just in Latin America. As additional data become available, these indicators could be part of a set of analytical tools to assess how emerging market economies are preparing themselves to cope with the adverse effects of global financial turbulence on real credit growth.
    Keywords: Latin America, credit growth, global financial crisis, emerging markets, financial resilience, vulnerability indicators
    JEL: E65 G2
    Date: 2012–02
  3. By: Luis Armando Galvis
    Abstract: This paper aims to carry out a depiction of labor informality in Colombia. We discuss the different alternatives that have been considered when defining and measuring labor informality and, based on technical criteria, employ the definitions related to the lack of affiliation to social security schemes (healthcare and pensions) and that of DANE for measuring the intensity of informality in the twenty-three major Colombian cities. The results show that when defining informality as the lack of affiliation to social security, nearly six out of ten employees belong to the informal sector. Additionally, informal workers in Colombia are characterized by low educational and income levels, besides from working in smaller establishments, when compared to the formal workers. From a regional perspective, the cities outward to the trapezoid conformed by Bogota, Cali, Medellin and Bucaramanga, the country’s main economic location, have the highest informality rates. RESUMEN: El presente documento tiene por objetivo llevar a cabo una caracterización de la informalidad en Colombia. Se discuten las diferentes alternativas que se han considerado para definir y medir la informalidad y, basado en criterios técnicos, se emplea la definición asociada a la no afiliación a seguridad social (salud y pensión) y la del DANE para medir el nivel de informalidad en las veintitrés principales ciudades del país. Los resultados muestran que, definiendo la informalidad por la falta de aportes a seguridad social, cerca de seis de cada diez empleados se ubicaría en el sector informal. Asimismo, el perfil de los informales en Colombia se caracteriza por presentar bajos niveles educativos, menores niveles de ingreso y se desempeñan en establecimientos de menor tamaño que los trabajadores formales. A nivel regional, los niveles más altos en el grado de informalidad lo presentan ciudades que están por fuera del centro de actividad económica del país, especialmente las ciudades que no se encuentran en el trapecio formado por Bogotá, Cali, Medellín y Bucaramanga.
    Date: 2012–02–28
  4. By: Sebastián Galiani (Department of Economics, Washington University in St Louis); Guido Porto (Development Research Group, The World Bank)
    Abstract: This paper provides new evidence on the impacts of trade reforms on wages. We first introduce a model of trade that combines a non-competitive wage setting mechanism due to unions with a factor abundance hypothesis. The predictions of the model are then econometrically investigated using Argentine data. Instead of achieving identification by comparing industrial wages before and after one episode of trade liberalization, our strategy exploits the recent historical record of policy changes adopted by Argentina: from significant protection in the early 1970s, to the first episode of liberalization during the late 1970s, then back to a slowdown of reforms during the 1980s, and finally to the second episode of liberalization in the 1990s. These swings in trade policy represent broken trends in trade reforms that we can compare with observed trends in wages and wage inequality. We use unusual historical data sets of trends in tariffs, wages, and wage inequality to examine the structure of wages in Argentina and to explore how it is affected by tariff reforms. We find that i) trade liberalization, ceteris paribus, reduces wages; ii) industry tariffs reduce the industry skill premium; iii) conditional on the structure of tariffs at the industry level, the average tariff in the economy is positively associated with the aggregate skill premium. These findings suggest that the observed trends in wage inequality in Latin America can be reconciled with the Stolper-Samuelson predictions in a model with unions.
    Keywords: Trade liberalization, Stolper-Samuelson, Wage inequality, non-competitive wages and unions.
    JEL: F14 F16
    Date: 2011–10
  5. By: Ramirez, N.F.; Gamboa, L.F.; Bedi, A.S.; Sparrow, R.A.
    Abstract: The importance of ever-earlier interventions to help children reach their physical and cognitive potential is increasingly being recognized. In part, as a result of this, in developing countries, antenatal care is becoming an important element of strategies to prevent child stunting in utero and later. Notwithstanding their policy relevance and substantial expansion, empirical evidence on the role of antenatal care (ANC) programs in combating stunting is scarce. This study analyzes the role of ANC programs in determining the level and distribution of child stunting in three Andean countries - Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru - where since the 1990s, expanding access to such care has been an explicit policy intervention to tackle child malnutrition. We find that the use of such services is associated with a reduction in the level of malnutrition and at the same time access to such services is relatively equally distributed. While this is a positive sign, it also suggests that further expansion of ANC programs is unlikely to play a large role in reducing inequalities in malnutrition.
    Keywords: antenatal care;child malnutrition;inequality decomposition;height for age
    Date: 2012–03–06
  6. By: Emmanuel Vazquez (CEDLAS-UNLP)
    Abstract: Este trabajo hace uso de datos suministrados por el Programa Internacional de Evaluación de Alumnos (PISA) con el objetivo de proveer una cuantificación de los niveles y la evolución de la segregación escolar por nivel socioeconómico en el mundo y contribuir a la discusión de sus determinantes. Los resultados sugieren un ranking de países que muestra a América Latina como una región de alta segregación escolar en términos relativos y donde la segregación entre escuelas públicas y privadas es relevante. Se encuentra además que la segregación escolar por nivel socioeconómico es mayor en aquellos países y períodos de tiempo en los que la desigualdad y la participación del sector privado en la matrícula es mayor, en tanto ciertos patrones de localización geográfica pueden también jugar un rol importante.
    Keywords: segregación, educación, PISA
    JEL: D63 I24
    Date: 2012–03
  7. By: Javier Alejo (CEDLAS-UNLP)
    Abstract: Este trabajo realiza un estudio sobre la relación de Kuznets para América Latina con el objetivo de caracterizar el cambio de la tendencia en la evolución reciente de sus indicadores de desigualdad de ingresos. Utilizando encuestas de hogares se construye un panel de regiones latinoamericanas con datos de desigualdad y desarrollo de una calidad superior a los anteriormente utilizados en la literatura empírica sobre la hipótesis de Kuznets. Los cambios en la desigualdad están asociados a múltiples factores observables vinculados al desarrollo tales como el crecimiento económico, el nivel de capital humano, el grado de apertura y urbanización, la estabilidad económica, entre otros; junto a una multiplicidad de determinantes que no son de fácil medición por los trabajos empíricos. La incorporación al análisis de los cuantiles condicionales puede ayudar a estudiar si este conjunto de factores que no son mensurables pueden generar senderos de desarrollo y equidad heterogéneos. Los resultados obtenidos muestran que la relevancia práctica de la relación de Kuznets depende la interacción con el resto de las variables de desarrollo. Una vez que se incorpora al análisis todos los factores vinculados al desarrollo, es poco factible que el cambio en la tendencia de la desigualdad de América Latina esté relacionado al crecimiento económico.
    Keywords: desigualdad, América Latina, datos en panel, regresión por cuantiles
    Date: 2012–03
  8. By: Carlos Medina; Christian M. Posso; Jorge A.Tamayo; Emma Monsalve
    Abstract: Este trabajo utiliza un panel de firmas de la industria Colombiana para analizar las principales variables que inciden en la dinámica de la demanda laboral en los periodos 1993-2009 y 2000-2009. Se estiman funciones de demanda dinámicas a través de metodologías estándar y mediante modelos Panel VAR, y se encuentra: (i) una fuerte persistencia en el empleo, particularmente del no obrero, (ii) una alta sensibilidad por parte de la demanda de empleo ante un choque sobre la producción de la firma, en especial para el empleo no obrero, (iii) la respuesta del empleo obrero a su salario es significativamente mayor a la encontrada para el empleo no obrero, y (iv) el salario directo genera choques negativos sobre el empleo, aunque con mayor fuerza en el empleo obrero.
    Date: 2012–03–04

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