Brian McCaig

Department of Economics,
Wilfrid Laurier University
75 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON, N2L 3C5 Canada

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Wilfrid Laurier University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2015Stuck in the Middle? Structural Change and Productivity Growth in Botswana
with Margaret S. McMillan, Iñigo Verduzco-Gallo, Keith Jefferis: w21029
This paper decomposes Botswana’s growth from the late 1960s through 2010 into a within-sector and a between-sector (structural change) component. We find that during the 70s and 80s Botswana’s rapid economic growth was characterized by significant structural change with the share of the labor force employed in agriculture dropping from more than 80 percent to around 40 percent. Between 1990 and 2010 growth was also rapid, but structural change detracted from growth. We hypothesize that this is one of the reasons for persistent poverty and very high income inequality in Botswana today. This leaves us with the following puzzle: why is it that a country with such an impressive track record marked by good governance and prudent macroeconomic and fiscal policy is having so much trouble diversif...
January 2015Informal Employment in a Growing and Globalizing Low-income Country
with Nina Pavcnik: w20891
We document several facts about workforce transitions from the informal to the formal sector in Vietnam, a fast growing, industrializing, and low-income country. First, younger workers, particularly migrants, are more likely to work in the formal sector and stay there permanently. Second, the decline in the aggregate share of informal employment occurs through changes between and within birth cohorts. Third, younger, educated, male, and urban workers are more likely to switch to the formal sector than other workers initially in the informal sector. Poorly educated, older, female, rural workers face little prospect of formalization. Fourth, formalization coincides with occupational upgrading.

Published: Brian McCaig & Nina Pavcnik, 2015. "Informal Employment in a Growing and Globalizing Low-Income Country," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 545-50, May. citation courtesy of

September 2014Export Markets and Labor Allocation in a Low-income Country
with Nina Pavcnik: w20455
We study the effects of a positive export shock on labor allocation between the informal, microenterprise sector and the formal firm sector in a low-income country. The U.S.-Vietnam Bilateral Trade Agreement led to large reductions in U.S. tariffs on Vietnamese exports. We find that the share of manufacturing workers in Vietnam in the formal sector increased by 5 percentage points in response to the U.S. tariff reductions. The reallocation was greater for workers in more internationally integrated provinces and for younger cohorts. We estimate the gap in labor productivity within manufacturing across the informal and formal sectors. This gap and the aggregate labor productivity gain from the export-induced reallocation of workers across the two sectors are reduced when we account for worke...

American Economic Review (Forthcoming) citation courtesy of

November 2013Moving out of Agriculture: Structural Change in Vietnam
with Nina Pavcnik: w19616
We examine the role of structural change in the economic development of Vietnam from 1990 to 2008. Structural change accounted for a third of the growth in aggregate labor productivity during this period, which averaged 5.1 percent per annum. We discuss the role of reforms in agriculture, enterprises, and international integration in this process. In addition to the drastic move of employment away from agriculture toward services and manufacturing, we also document the movement of workers away from household businesses toward firms in the enterprise sector, and the reallocation of workers from state owned firms toward private domestic and foreign owned firms. Manufacturing experienced particularly rapid growth in labor productivity and a large expansion of employment, as it grew from 8 to ...
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