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Citation Information

Type Report
Title Does Informal Employment Respond to Growth Opportunities? Trade-Based Evidence from Bangladesh
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
URL https://sites.tufts.edu/neudc2017/files/2017/10/paper_6.pdf
Informal employment accounts for the majority of employment in many developing
countries, yet its relevance to growth, and its links with the formal sector, remain
poorly understood. A widely held view is that informality eventually gives way to
formality as countries develop. In this paper, we examine the effects of growth opportunities
- in the form of export-induced demand in Bangladesh - on four types of
employment: formal, casual, unpaid, and self-employment. At an aggregate level,
export-induced demand increases the levels of all four types of employment. We also
conduct a district-level analysis, constructing a shift-share measure of trade exposure
that relies on national, industry-level variation in exports, coupled with pre-existing,
district-level shares of employment by industry. We find that the direct impact of
trade is to increase labor force participation and formal employment. When we
also include the indirect impacts of trade, in the form of induced demand through
supply chain linkages, we find an even larger impact on labor force participation.
The results also suggest that trade triggers an immediate increase in both formal
and casual employment, as well as a longer-run increase in self-employment. We
conclude that labor response to growth opportunities such as trade is not limited to
formal employment, and a more nuanced understanding of informality in the growth
process is needed.

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