Is the Minimum Wage Effective in a Context of Informality?

Susana Herrero Olarte


There is a general trend in the South American region to increase the minimum wage (MW) to reduce poverty and inequality. However, empirical studies are inconclusive with respect to the effect of the MW. This study seeks to contribute to the empirical evidence regarding the impact of this policy by exploring its limitations and possibilities for reducing poverty in Ecuador. Unlike other studies, a measure to capture informality in the labor market is included. Using fixed effect estimation with panel data, I determine the relationship between labor income deciles and variations in the MW, using a proxy for its effectiveness. The results suggest that the MW positively affects the lower income deciles, to a lesser extent the intermediate deciles and with no effect on the higher ones. However, when considering a control for the degree of informality in the labor market, the effect on the lower deciles is mitigated. Therefore, increases in the MW may be a strategy to increase the income of the middle and vulnerable class, but it does not seem to be useful for reducing poverty.

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Research in World Economy
ISSN 1923-3981(Print)ISSN 1923-399X(Online)


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