Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Endnotes: The Informal Sector and Social Marginality Are Expanding in Latin America

Below are the endnotes from Hard Talk: The Informal Sector and Social Marginality Are Expanding in Latin America by William I. Robinson (Summer 2015 AQ).

  1. The first country to reform its labor laws was Chile, in 1978 and 1979, followed by Colombia in 1990, Peru in 1991, Argentina in 1991 and 1995, Panama in 1990, again in 1995 and then further in 2004. Mexico was one of the last countries in the region to enact such reforms, in 2012. The reform authorizes contract labor, part time, and seasonal labor for the first time as well as probationary periods, among other things. Panama’s 1990 reforms introduced temporary contacts and created Export Processing Zones in which the country’s labor code’s protections— including the right to collective bargaining and guaranteed vacation time—were suspended for businesses funded by foreign capital. Peru’s 1991 reforms introduced contract labor and extended probationary periods, made it easier to dismiss workers and reduced severance pay benefits, among other measures. In Peru as in other countries, the initial reform legislation was followed in subsequent years by further reform involving a “rolling” erosion of worker rights and the flexibilization of labor markets.
  2. As cited in Edgardo E. Lander, “Venezuelan Social Conflict in a Global Context,” Latin American Perspectives 32(2), pp. 25.
  3. As cited in Jim Thomas, “The New Economic Model and Labor Markets in Latin America,” in Victor Bulmer-Thomas (ed.), The New Economic Model in Latin America and Its Impact on Income Distribution and Poverty (New York: St. Martin’s Press, pp. 79-102, PREALC data presented in table 2, pp. 88. 
  4. Ibid.  Data for 1998 from International Labor Organization, as cited in Alejandro Portes and Kelly Hoffman, “Latin American Class Structures: Their Composition and Change During the Neoliberal Era,” Latin American Research Review, 38(1), pp. 50.
  5. There are many studies on this topic.  The path-breaking work is Manuel Castells and Alejandro Portes, The Informal Economy: Studies in Developed and Less Advanced Countries (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989).


Sign up for our free newsletter