June 2023

IZA DP No. 16225: Are Informal Self-Employment and Informal Employment as Employee Behaviorally Distinct Labor Force States?

The paper performs both a parametric and non-parametric analysis to address a fundamental question in the growing literature using search models to study labor market informality: should informal self-employment and informal employment as employee be considered two different labor market states? Both the non-parametric and the parametric tests strongly reject equality between the two states, cautioning against aggregating them in a common "informality state." The parametric model indicates the source of the difference in the high dispersion of informal self-employment income and in the low duration of informal employee jobs.