the past 50 years, the data were selected, and adjusted, to reflect national boundaries in 1999. Labor market information was averaged for 11 five-year time periods, from 1945–1949 to 1995–1999.
Describing the database variables, Artecona said that they sought to include information on labor market outcomes, as well as to “provide, hopefully, some light on the debate about [whether] labor market interventions are good or bad.” The variables included 44 indicators in seven broad groups: (1) labor force; (2) employment and unemployment; (3) wages and productivity; (4) conditions of work and benefits; (5) trade unions and collective bargaining; (6) public sector employment; and (7) labor standards (see Table 2-1). Artecona said that when they were selecting indicators, they chose those with clear definitions. The database does not include information on the share of the informal sector in the total labor force because there was no clear definition of what constitutes informal employment. Artecona said they drew on a wide variety of cross-country and country-specific sources, including unpublished statistical information gathered during their research for the World Bank.
Confronted with many different, and sometimes conflicting, data sources, Artecona and Rama considered three alternative strategies:
to document every break, discrepancy, and change in definition;
to recalibrate the data in order to make it fully consistent; or
to exercise judgment in selecting data that appear comparable and to report these data without comments.
Artecona argued that the first strategy is self-defeating because no one uses labor market data that are extensively documented to conduct research. The second strategy is not practical, she said, except for a few indicators, such as wages. This left the third strategy. Carrying out this strategy, Artecona and Rama first constructed a raw database, with all relevant labor market information from all sources. Second, they organized the data into 121 country files, including those variables from the “raw” database that were related to the 44 labor market indicators. When sources conflicted, they selected the “better” source, based on what they stated was their expert knowledge of countries and data sources. They also dropped variables, observations, and sources that were clearly out of line with other sources. Finally, they summarized the information in each country file in the form of five-year period averages, from 1945–1949 to 1995–1999.
Rama noted that, although he and Artecona were still adding to the