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Informality, Labor Market Dynamics, and Business Cycles in North Africa

Olivier Bizimana and Shant Arzoumanian

No 2023/182, IMF Working Papers from International Monetary Fund

Abstract: Employment informality is widespread across North Africa. This paper aims to shed light on the role played by the informal sector in labor market adjustments over the business cycle. It finds that the response of labor markets to output fluctuations is more muted in countries with higher informality levels, like the North African economies. The analysis also confirms that informal employment is countercyclical and acts as a buffer during economic downturns in countries with relatively higher informality. However, contrary to what took place in past recessions, informal employment contracted sharply during the 2020 pandemic recession in high informality economies, suggesting that it did not play its traditional countercyclical role. By contrast, employment informality tends to fall modestly or increase during economic upturns, including the post-pandemic recovery. This finding presages the persistence of a large informal sector in the post-covid era in medium- and high-informality countries.

Keywords: Informality; Labor Markets; Business cycles; Okun’s Law; employment informality; labor market dynamics; business cycles in North Africa; informality economy; law coefficients from panel regression; product market rigidity; Informal employment; Employment; Economic recession; Labor force participation; North Africa (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 36
Date: 2023-09-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-afr, nep-ara, nep-dev, nep-iue and nep-lma
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Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:2023/182