The Dynamics of Labour Informality in Brazil, 2003-2019
This article examines the evolution of labour informality in Brazil between 2003 and 2019, a period marked by strong political, economic and social inflections. In the first section, we offer a brief reflection on the terms of the historical debate on informality and its relation to the transformations of the Brazilian economy. In section two we describe the remarkable process of labour formalisation that took place in the country between 2003 and 2014, pointing out its exceptionality and principal determinants. In section three, we note the reversal of this formalisation trend. With the recession of 2015–2016, informal and precarious work increased sharply, exacerbated by newly flexible labour laws and the emergence of new precarious labour relations. We conclude that the Brazilian experience in this new century shows that the formalisation of labour relations is strongly related to more general conditions of economic development and the solidity of public institutions. Furthermore, and in contrast to the views held in mainstream economics, initiatives to simplify and ease the regulatory framework appear to coexist with increasing levels of precariousness and informal work.
KEYWORDS: labour informality; Brazilian labour market; public policy; labour regulation; gig economy
Global Labour Journal's authors grant the journal permission to publish, but they retain copyright of their manuscripts. The Global Labour Journal applies a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International License.
Under the terms of this licensing framework anyone is free to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work, under the following conditions:
- Attribution: You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
- Noncommercial Use: You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
- No Derivative Works: You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.
For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work.
Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder, the author of the piece. The author's moral rights are retained in this license.