nep-lam New Economics Papers
on Central and South America
Issue of 2023‒11‒27
three papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi, Universidad de la República

  1. Labor market turnover and inequality in Latin America By Menezes-Filho, Naercio; Narita, Renata
  2. Seventy-five years of measuring income inequality in Latin America By Alvaredo, Facundo; Bourguignon, François; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Lustig, Nora
  3. Inequality of opportunity and intergenerational persistence in Latin America By Brunori, Paolo; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Neidhöfer, Guido

  1. By: Menezes-Filho, Naercio; Narita, Renata
    Abstract: This paper describes the patterns of worker turnover in selected Latin American countries and their implications for wage inequality. It documents a higher positive annual wage growth rate for jobto-job changers compared to stayers, due to turnover capturing the immediate gains from search behavior in the short run. Younger workers benefit relatively more from the positive effects of jobto-job changes, as expected. We also show that transitions are relatively higher within the informal sector for most countries, and particularly so for workers without college education. Moreover, total job separations and transitions from formal into informal employment occur more often among low-skill and young individuals. Next, the paper analyzes wage growth by percentiles for all workers and job-to-job movers for each country over a more extended period. We find that jobto-job changes are inequality-reducing in the short run, consistent with search gains associated with turnover exhausting more rapidly for high-paid workers. In contrast, we find that human capital effects dominate the search effects in the long run, as human capital accumulates over time. Thus, long-run wage growth is lower for job changers than for stayers, so that, while in the short run the search effects tend to dominate those of human capital, in the long run the opposite occurs. As unskilled workers change jobs more frequently, this suggests that job changes are inequalityincreasing in the long run. A potential explanation for limited wage growth in Latin American economies may include high informality rates. Policies to reduce wage inequality should focus on improving the conditions for positive turnover towards better investment and, thus, higher-quality jobs.
    JEL: N0 R14 J01
    Date: 2023–09–01
  2. By: Alvaredo, Facundo; Bourguignon, François; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Lustig, Nora
    Abstract: Drawing on a comprehensive compilation of quantile shares and inequality measures for 34 countries, including over 5, 600 estimated Gini coefficients, we review the measurement of income inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean over the last seven decades. Although the evidence from the first quarter century – roughly until the 1970s – is too fragmentary and difficult to compare, clearer patterns emerge for the last fifty years. The central feature of these patterns is a broad inverted U curve, with inequality rising in most countries prior to the 1990s, and falling during the early 21st Century, at least until the mid-2010s, when trends appear to diverge across countries. This broad pattern is modified by country specificities, with considerable variation in timing and magnitude. Whereas this broad picture emerges for income inequality dynamics, there is much more uncertainty about the exact levels of inequality in the region. The uncertainty arises from the disparity in estimates for the same country/year combinations, depending on whether they come from household surveys exclusively; from some combination of surveys and administrative tax data; and on whether they attempt to scale income aggregates to achieve consistency with National Accounts estimates. Since no single method is fully convincing at present, we are left with (often wide) ranges, or bands, of inequality as our best summaries of inequality levels. Reassuringly, however, the dynamic patterns are generally robust across the bands.
    Keywords: income inequality; measurement; Latin America and the Caribbean
    JEL: D31 D63 O54
    Date: 2023–09–22
  3. By: Brunori, Paolo; Ferreira, Francisco H. G.; Neidhöfer, Guido
    Abstract: How strong is the transmission of socio-economic status across generations in Latin America? To answer this question, we first review the empirical literature on intergenerational mobility and inequality of opportunity for the region, summarizing results for both income and educational outcomes. We find that, whereas the income mobility literature is hampered by a paucity of representative datasets containing linked information on parents and children, the inequality of opportunity approach – which relies on other inherited and pre-determined circumstance variables – has suffered from arbitrariness in the choice of population partitions. Two new data-driven approaches – one aligned with the ex-ante and the other with the ex-post conception of inequality of opportunity – are introduced to address this shortcoming. They yield a set of new inequality of opportunity estimates for twenty-seven surveys covering nine Latin American countries over various years between 2000 and 2015. In most cases, more than half of the current generation’s inequality is inherited from the past – with a range between 44% and 63%. We argue that on balance, given the parsimony of the population partitions, these are still likely to be underestimates.
    JEL: D31 I39 J62 O15
    Date: 2023–09–01

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