After a decade of rapid growth, industrialization has lost ground with shrinking manufacturing sector and high informality in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This paper explores how land market and labor regulations affect factor allocative efficiency and firm performance in SSA. Using pooled data on firm balance sheets for 40 countries in SSA, the results identify significant land and labor misallocations due to limited market allocation of land and inappropriate regulatory policies. Using variations in ethnic diversity and the intensity of regulatory actions to peer firms at subnational level as instrumental variables, local average treatment effects show large productivity gains from factor reallocations, especially for marginally productive firms. Panel data results for Nigerian firms confirm factor market inefficiency as a principal driver of declining productivity, while showing that the 2011 minimum wage reform increased firm size. The results imply that improving formal regulation is critical to support firm growth at the stage of weak legal capacity, while informal sector monitoring gets effective as legal capacity develops.
Thailand stands out in international comparison as a country with a high dispersion of productivity across sectors. It has especially low labor productivity in agriculture—a sector that employs a much larger share of the population than is typical for a country at Thailand’s level of income. This suggests large potential productivity gains from labor reallocation across sectors, but that process—which made a significant contribution to Thailand’s growth in the past—appears to have stalled lately. This paper establishes these facts and applies a simple model to discuss possible explanations. The reasons include a gap between the skills possessed by rural workers and those required in the modern sectors; the government’s price support programs for several agricultural commodities, particularly rice; and the uniform minimum wage. At the same time, agriculture plays a useful social and economic role as the employer of last resort. The paper makes a number of policy recommendations aimed at facilitating structural transformation in the Thai economy.
This paper provides the first systematic study of how minimum wage policies in China affect firm employment over the 2000-2007 periods. Using a novel dataset of minimum wage regulations across more than 2,800 counties matched with firm-level data, we investigate both the effect of the minimum wage and its policy enforcement tightening in 2004. A dynamic panel (difference GMM) estimator is combined with a “neighbor-pairs-approach” to control for unobservable heterogeneity common to “border counties” that are subject to different minimum wage changes. We show that minimum wage increases have a significant negative impact on employment, with an estimated elasticity of -0.1. Furthermore, we find a heterogeneous effect of the minimum wage on employment which depends on the firm's wage level. Specifically, the minimum wage has a greater negative impact on employment in low-wage firms than in high-wage firms. Our results are robust for different treatment groups, sample attrition correction, and placebo tests.
Oya Celasun, Gabriel Di Bella, Tim Mahedy, and Mr. Chris Papageorgiou
The notable rebound of U.S. manufacturing activity following the Great Recession has raised the question of whether the sector might be experiencing a renaissance. Using panel regressions, we find that a depreciating real exchange rate, an increasing spread in natural gas prices between the United States and other G-7 countries, and in particular decreasing unit labor costs have had a positive impact on U.S. manufacturing production. While we find it unlikely for manufacturing to become a main engine of growth in the United States, we find that U.S. manufacturing exports could provide nonnegligible growth opportunities going forward.
Using manufacturing and services firm-level data for 30 sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, this paper shows that taxation is not a significant driver for the location of foreign firms in SSA, while other investment climate factors, such as infrastructure, human capital, and insitutions, are. By analyzing disaggregate FDI data, the paper establishes that, while there is considerable contrast in behavior between vertical FDI (foreign firms producing for export) and horizontal FDI (foreign firms producing for local markets), taxation is not a key determinant for either type of FDI. Horizontal FDI is attracted to areas with higher trade regulations, highlighting interest in protected markets. Furthermore, horizontal FDI is affected more by financing and human capital constraints, and less by infrastructure and institutional constraints, than is vertical FDI.
This paper finds a negative relationship between the employment share of the service sector and the volatility of aggregate output in the OECD—after controlling for the level of financial development. This result reflects volatility differentials across sectors: labor productivity is more volatile in agriculture and manufacturing than in services. Aggregate output would therefore become less volatile as labor moves away from agriculture and manufacturing and toward the service sector. I examine the quantitative role of these labor shifts—termed structural transformation—on the volatility of aggregate output in OECD countries. I first calibrate to the U.S. economy an indivisible labor model in which the reallocation of labor across sectors emerges endogenously from sectoral labor productivity growth differentials. The setup is then used to generate the time path of labor shares in agriculture, manufacturing and services in individual countries. Finally, I perform a set of counterfactual analyzes in which the reallocation of labor across sectors is constrained endogenously. I find that the secular shift of labor towards the service sector was volatility-reducing in OECD countries during 1970–2006.