This paper studies the drivers of the labor market performance in Nicaragua with a particular focus on informality, to identify vulnerable groups during economic downturns; and estimates the speed of adjustment of employment to shocks. The paper compares this experience with the ones in other CAPDR countries (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Panama). Our findings are that while the high countercyclical informality in Nicaragua has been the active margin of adjustment during economic downturns mitigating unemployment, the trade-off has been a lower speed of adjustment to shocks hampering the country’s ability to revert to its potential. Policy recommendations relate to mitigating the impact of downturns on employment in Nicaragua, easing adjustments and inequalities in the labor market to hasten the employment recovery and thus, support growth.
Ms. Alina Carare, Catherine Koh, and Mr. Yorbol Yakhshilikov
Undocumented migration from the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) to the United States has been steadily increasing over the past 30 years, accelerating at times. The paper investigates what factors could explain this fact, by estimating an investment decision model, using annual data over 1990-2019. Economic labor market conditions (real wages and unemployment rates, especially in the U.S.) play a major role in explaining undocumented migration. Less explored drivers of undocumented migration tied to living conditions at home also explain well undocumented migration (natural disasters, coffee production, higher temperatures, and homicide rates). Tighter border enforcement measures act as a deterrent, and perceptions regarding changes of these measures could also drive up undocumented migration at times. Policies that address the root causes of migration at home, including with the U.S. help, are essential in reducing the difference between perceived benefits and expected costs of migration.
Hee Soo Kim, Carlos Chaverri, Emilio William Fernandez Corugedo, and Pedro Juarros
Central America is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions to extreme climate events. The literature estimates the macroeconomic effects of climate events mainly using annual data, which might underestimate the true effects as these extreme events tend to be short-lived and generate government and family support in response. To overcome this limitation, this paper studies Central American countries’ macroeconomic impact of climatic disasters using high-frequency (monthly) data over the period 2000-2019. We identify extreme climate events by defining dummy variables related to storm and flood events reported in the EM-DAT (Emergency Events Database) and estimate country-specific VAR and panel VAR. The results suggest that a climatic disaster drops monthly economic activity in most countries in the region of around 0.5 to 1 percentage points on impact, with persistent effects on the level of GDP. We show that even as extreme climate events were relatively less severe under our sample period, quantitative effects are similar or larger than previously estimated for the region. In addition, remittances (transfers from family living abroad) increase for most countries in response to a extreme climate event, acting as a shock absorber. The results are robust to controlling for the severity of the climate events, for which we construct a monthly climate index measuring severity of weather indicators by following the spirit of the Actuaries Climate Index (ACI).