Call for Research Proposals

"Labour Demand and Job Creation: Empirical Evidence from Firms in Latin America"

Context and motivation

CEDLAS and IDRC recently launched a regional research project on Labour markets for inclusive growth in Latin America. Over the last two decades, Latin American societies experienced a series of major transformations, which affected the role and the characteristics of their labour markets. These changes arose from the impact of globalization, from structural reforms and from a series of crises, which affected both workers and firms. The project’s research agenda lies at the intersection of labour supply and demand perspectives. It will seek to account for the implications of changes in labour supply, firm employment demand, labour market policies and partial social protection reforms, among other related factors. The project will facilitate crucial policy dialogues influenced by robust evidence on the labour market challenges facing Latin American economics and the proper articulation of policies needed for more inclusive jobs.

Call for proposals

CEDLAS and IDRC are launching a competitive call for proposals for research teams based in Latin America1 for three studies on factors affecting labour demand based on firm-level data (see the section on data sources below). The proposals will be selected in two phases (expressions of interest and full proposals) by the selection committee detailed below.

The major economic changes in Latin America in the last few decades, such as increased openness and structural reforms, have modified the productive structure in terms of the distribution of firms’ size and productivity, tax and social security compliance, informality status, skill intensity, labour demand, employment creation and rotation, structure and levels of remuneration levels, and other related factors. The selected proposals will develop country case studies2 dealing with the topics related to those listed below:3

• the relationship between labour regulations, firm productivity and the demand for skills;
• the effect of social protection systems’ incentives on firm’s employment and formality decisions – such as the effect of social transfers or legal status on the demand for labour;
• the interaction of labour market regulations and institutions (including taxes or contributive and noncontributive social protection systems) on employment creation, formality levels and/or job displacement;
• the type of employment (formal-informal; subcontracts; etc.) offered by firms, and its relationship with worker’s characteristics and remuneration levels, with emphasis on firms offering multiple contract types;
• the identification of labour demand aspects (for instance, job creation, formality levels and job displacement) through the impact of policy changes.

The proposals will be evaluated according to their academic rigor, their originality and their policy relevance. The expressions of interest will have to specify the national debate on these issues and their potential to inform and influence this debate. They will also need to specify how the proposed study differs from those existing in the literature and from the authors’ previous research – proposals should consist of original work. The research resulting from this call will be presented and discussed within this project’s workshops and events, and the final research documents (to be written in English) will be disseminated as CEDLAS working papers. Although a policy-oriented version of the resulting papers will be included in a collective volume, the authors will be encouraged to submit their work to refereed journals.

Data sources

This call for proposals aims to produce evidence derived from firm level data – such as establishment level information; firm surveys; economic census; tax, social security and other administrative information; and related sources. Each team will need to demonstrate a capacity (i.e., possession of databases, licenses, etc.) to access its selected sources throughout the duration of the project. Teams with previous research experience with the data sources will be preferred, and priority will be given to studies based on linked employer-employee data.

Application procedure and project timeline

Selection process: Expression of interest-team’s experience. December 1, 2010-January 28, 2011

The candidates should include the CVs of all team members and a short (five page maximum) expression of interest in English, detailing the following items:

1. Section 1: Overview of the team’s proposed study (three pages maximum)
2. Description of the proposal’s data sources, including the team’s previous experience with the data and the institutional arrangement for data access.
3. Policy relevance of the results: the proposal should specify the national debate on the proposal’s objectives.
4. Research to policy and dissemination strategy: the proposals should specify their potential to inform and influence this debate, and the strategy to achieve this potential.

The expressions of interest and CVs in PDF format should be sent to Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spam bots. Necesita activar JavaScript para visualizarla Clarifications, updates and further relevant information for this call will be posted at the project’s website:

These expressions of interest will be evaluated by the selection committee. The committee will select the expressions of interest with most potential for the project, and will request on March 1st, 2011 a more detailed proposal due by March 28th, 2011. The final decision for the three studies will be announced by April 29th 2011.

Tentative schedule: The studies will start on May 2011, and the final versions will be submitted by October 2012. The final schedule detailing intermediate deadlines, peer review processes and payments will be specified upon signing the contract.


Each of the three selected proposals will be awarded 20.000 USD in instalments tied to deliverables. The project also envisages extra funding of up to 6.000 USD for each selected team to finance events related to policy dissemination strategies.

Selection committee

Gary Fields, Cornell University María Laura Alzúa, CEDLAS-UNLP
Sebastián Galiani, Washington University in St. Louis Guillermo Cruces, CEDLAS-UNLP
Carmen Pages, IADB Leonardo Gasparini, CEDLAS-UNLP
Carolina Robino, IDRC  

The selection process will also draw on the expertise of the project's advisory board, which also includes Fabio Bertranou (ILO), Matías Busso (IADB), Mauricio Cárdenas (Brookings Institution), Jeff Dayton-Johnson (OECD), Habiba Djebbari (Université Laval), Luis Felipe López Calva (World Bank), Hugo Ñopo (IADB) and Pablo Sanguinetti (CAF).

1 The principal investigator must be based in an institution in the region, but teams can include researchers from developed countries.
2 Note however that multi-country studies based on microdata will also be considered.
3 Please note that the selection team will accept informal enquiries regarding potential research topics. These enquiries should be sent to the following email address: Esta dirección electrónica esta protegida contra spam bots. Necesita activar JavaScript para visualizarla