Volume 147 (2008), Number 4
An equilibrium analysis of the gender wage gap
Graciela CHICHILNISKY and Elisabeth HERMANN FREDERIKSEN
Within a two-sector general equilibrium model, women’s productivity in the marketplace
decreases with the amount of household work they perform at home. Assuming
that men’s and women’s household labour inputs are complementary, the
authors prove the existence of multiple equilibria. In some, men and women allocate
their labour equally and earn identical wages. In others, they allocate labour differently
and earn different wages. In this context, beliefs about the inferiority of
women’s productivity are shown to be self-fulfilling. By use of numerical examples,
the authors show that welfare is highest when spouses allocate labour equally and
suggest policy recommendations.
KEYWORDS: WAGE DIFFERENTIAL, WOMAN WORKER, LABOUR SUPPLY, UNPAID WORK, TIME
BUDGET, GENDER EQUALITY.
Informal employment: Two contested policy issues
David KUCERA and Leanne RONCOLATO
This article addresses two contested issues of crucial importance to policy, namely:
formal labour regulations as a cause of informal employment, and so-called “voluntary”
informal employment. The authors provide theoretical overviews on both
issues and an extensive survey of empirical studies on the effects of formal labour
regulations on informal employment. The article closes with observations on the
relevance of the ILO’s four decent work objectives for informal employment and
economic development, with particular emphasis on the significance of – and potential
for – organizing workers in the informal economy.
KEYWORDS: INFORMAL EMPLOYMENT, INFORMAL WORKERS, DECENT WORK, LABOUR LAW,
A strategic approach to labour inspection
In a report released in 2006, the ILO highlighted the difficulties of labour inspection
in its member States and advocated a number of measures to strengthen its effectiveness.
The author argues that inspectorates must go beyond calls for more inspectors
by adopting a clear strategic framework for reacting to incoming complaints and targeting
programmed investigations in order to maximize effectiveness in the use of
their overstretched resources. To do so, he proposes, their work must be guided by the
principles of prioritization, deterrence, sustainability and achieving systemic effects.
The article concludes with an outline of the requirements of a coherent regulatory
KEYWORDS:LABOUR INSPECTION, WORKING CONDITIONS, LABOUR LAW, APPLICATION,
INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK, UNITED STATES.
Social protection in Chile: Reforms to improve equity
At the beginning of the 1980s, Chile pioneered the implementation in Latin America
of structural reforms that fully or partially privatized pensions, health-care and
social assistance systems. Implemented without prior social dialogue, these reforms
– which subsequently influenced similar reforms in other countries of the region
and elsewhere – led to reduced social solidarity and equity and intensified poverty
and inequality. Over the past 18 years, however, democratic governments have corrected
many design faults in the original reforms. The author examines the progress
achieved and areas of persistent social inequality in terms of coverage, gender balance
and funding, and identifies future challenges.
KEYWORDS: SOCIAL PROTECTION, SOCIAL SECURITY, SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM, EQUAL
Notes, debates and communications
International labour standards: Recent developments in complementarity between the international and national supervisory systems, by Eric GRAVEL and Quentin DELPECH
Far from competing against one another, the national and international systems of labour regulation are interlocked: ILO standards have been used in recent rulings by
the highest jurisdictions of some countries. Examining two decisions by the Supreme
Court of Canada and another by the Paris Court of Appeal, the authors clarify the
circumstances in which national courts make use of these international sources of
law and consequent legal implications. The cases involve proceedings before
national courts and ILO bodies, and France and Canada also have different legal cultures,
enabling a discussion of how national jurisdictions actually appropriate international
KEYWORDS: ILO STANDARDS, APPLICATION, SUPERVISORY MACHINERY, JUDICIAL DECISION,
The World Bank’s “Employing Workers” index: Findings and critiques A review of recent evidence, by Sangheon LEE, Deirdre MCCANN and Nina TORM
This note provides an update on the on-going debate over the World Banks Doing Business project with a particular focus on its Employing Workers index, which is intended to measure difficulty of hiring, rigidity of working hours and difficulty of firing. The authors review the findings of studies that have used this index or been influenced by it and of those that inspired its construction. They go on to examine criticisms of this instrument, highlighting both conceptual and empirical problems. Their paper concludes with suggestions for alternative approaches and future research.
KEYWORDS: LABOUR FLEXIBILITY, LABOUR LAW, EMPLOYMENT, EMPLOYMENT SECURITY, MEASUREMENT, ROLE OF WORLD BANK.
Inequalities and financial globalization: A timely report, by Patrick BOLLÉ
Following the launch of the World of Work Report, the new annual report of the
ILO’s International Institute for Labour Studies, this note presents the contents of
the first report in this series, subtitled Income inequalities in the age of financial
globalization. Its timely release at the end of October 2008 came amidst mounting
concern over the extent, duration and economic and social consequences of the
financial crisis. The report examines the determinants of widening income inequalities
and how inequality relates to financial globalization, labour market institutions,
employment – job creation and characteristics – and redistributive policies.
KEYWORDS: BOOK REVIEW, EMPLOYMENT, LABOUR MARKET, WAGES, WAGE DIFFERENTIAL, INCOME DISTRIBUTION, SOCIAL POLICY, GLOBALIZATION, DEVELOPED COUNTRIES, DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.
Reassembling social security: A survey of pensions and health care
reforms in Latin America, by Carmelo MESA-LAGO. Reviewed by Hedva SARFATI