Labor Markets in Latin America: Combining Social Protection with Market Flexibility

By Sebastian Edwards; Nora Lustig Claudia | Go to book overview

funded minimum pension and access to subsidized health care. Several countries in the region have already begun introducing such reforms, with Chile the pioneer. But because these reforms are so new, in most cases their actual impact cannot yet be assessed.

Labor reform has proved to be particularly difficult in political terms. The key to success might be to introduce the reforms as implying greater choice rather than more restrictions. For example, under the new legislation, decentralized collective bargaining should not be obligatory but offered as an alternative. In order to encourage decentralization, it would suffice to allow individual firms to decide whether to follow sector- or industrywide collective contracts. It is also important that reforms preserve the notion of reciprocity. For example, it may be worthwhile to maintain a small severance payment scheme, so that laying off workers is not seen as totally without cost to the employer. Such measures may make labor reform politically more palatable and hence more feasible. Selling it purely on the grounds of efficiency is unlikely to generate the support to make labor reform happen or, if it does, make it sustainable.


References

Blanchflower David, and Andrew Oswald. 1990. "The Wage Curve." Scandinavian Journal of Economics 92 (2): 215-35.

Carruth Alan A., and Andrew J. Oswald. 1981. "The Determination of Union and Non-Union Wage Rates." European Economic Review 16(2-3): 285-302.

CEPAL (Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe). 1995. Balance Preliminar de la Economía de América Latina y el Caribe. Santiago, Chile: United Nations.

Cortázar, Rene, Nora Claudia Lustig, and Richard Sabot. Forthcoming. "Economic Policy and Labor Market Dynamics in Latin America." In Efficiency- and Equity-Enhancing Reforms in Latin America, edited by Nancy Birdsall, Carol Graham, and Richard Sabot. Brookings.

ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean). 1996. Economic Panorama of Latin America, 1966. Santiago, Chile: United Nations.

Edwards Sebastian. 1995. Crisis and Reform in Latin America: From Despair to Hope. Oxford University Press.

Hommes Rudolf, Armando Montenegro, and Pablo Roda. 1994. Una Apertura Hacia el Futuro. Bogota, Colombia: Ministerio de Hacienda y Crédito Público, Departamento Nacional de Planeación and Fondo Nacional de Desarrollo Económico.

Krueger Anne O. 1990. Perspectives on Trade and Development. Harvester and Wheatsheaf.

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