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2003 Documento de Trabajo #169

Labor Market Distortions, Employment and Growth: The Recent Chilean Experience

The per capita growth rate of Chile from 1984 to 1997 was among the highest in the world. During recent years, however, per capita growth dropped significantly. This paper discusses the role of factor accumulation and the efficiency with which factors are used, measured as total factor productivity (TFP), to explain the evolution of output in Chile during the past 20 years. In contrast with the experience of the 1980s and early 1990s, in recent years the primary determinant of the drop in output growth has not been a decline in TFP, but a severe fall in employment. Using a calibrated dynamic general equilibrium model based on the neoclassical growth model, with fluctuations in factor inputs induced by changes in TFP and relative input prices, we conclude that a 6.17% increase in the cost of labor hiring replicates the observed fall in employment. This fall, in turn, could be attributed to a perceived higher cost of labor services associated to both the significant increase in the minimum wage observed between 1998 and 2000, and a labor code reform, intensively debated during the 1999-2002 period.

JEL Classification: E13, E24.

Raphael Bergoeing
Felipe Morandé
Facundo Piguillem

Keywords: Chile., Growth accounting, labor market distortions