Labour Markets for Inclusive Growth in Latin America

In a recent public opinion survey carried out in 17 Latin American countries, respondents ranked labour market problems first on a list of 10 problems, including violence, poverty, corruption and low level of education (Latinobarómetro 2009). Most of the population in the region is employed in low-wage, low-productivity sectors, which explains the high prevalence of working poor and income disparity. According to some estimates, over half of the region's workforce is part of the informal economy and not covered by social security. While many countries in Latin America have resumed economic growth following the crisis, steering it in the direction of more and better jobs remains a challenge.

This project aims to shed light on the factors that explain the pervasiveness of informal employment and what it means for growth and inclusion. Researchers will endeavor to identify the role of labour market and social protection institutions (social reforms, taxes, regulations) in explaining informality and productivity. They will do so by preparing three regional research studies based on micro-level household survey data from the Socio-Economic Database for Latin America and the Caribbean (SEDLAC), a unique database of more than 200 household surveys for all Latin American countries covering the period 1985-2010 and by managing a call for three country-specific studies based on firm-level data.

Capacity building activities will include a yearly summer school on evidence-based analysis of labour markets and inclusive growth for researchers and government technical staff, and an annual competition for research proposals on labour issues aimed at students and recent graduates, to be mentored by senior academics. The research team will engage with policymakers and the media through workshops, policy forums and a series of conferences on labour studies. The workshops will provide an occasion to report on and discuss the work as it progresses with policymakers and journalists. The idea is to develop the knowledge base and research capacity to articulate labour market and social protection policies that foster inclusive growth in Latin America.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

End Date

Monday, March 31, 2014


36 months

IDRC Officer

Robino, Carolina

Total funding

CA$ 593,550


North and Central America, South America, Argentina


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Cruces, Guillermo


University of La Plata

Institution Country


Institution Website