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The Demand for, and Consequences of, Formalization among Informal Firms in Sri Lanka

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  • Suresh de Mel
  • David McKenzie
  • Christopher Woodruff

Abstract

A field experiment in Sri Lanka provides informal firms incentives to formalize. Information about the registration process and reimbursement of direct costs does not increase registration. Payments equivalent to one-half to one month (alternatively, two months) of the median firm's profits leads to registration of around one-fifth (alternatively, one-half ) of firms. Land ownership issues are the most common reason for not registering. Follow-up surveys 15 to 31 months later show higher mean profits, but largely in a few firms that grew rapidly. We find little evidence for other changes in behavior, but formalized firms express more trust in the state. (JEL C93, D22, L25, L26, O14)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 122-50

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:122-50

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.2.122
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References

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  1. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
  2. McKenzie, David, 2011. "Beyond baseline and follow-up : the case for more t in experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5639, The World Bank.
  3. Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2011. "Entry regulation and business start-ups: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1501-1515.
  4. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
  5. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 14520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4230, The World Bank.
  7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J Klenow, 2008. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," 2008 Meeting Papers 121, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. McKenzie, David & Sakho, Yaye Seynabou, 2007. "Does it pay firms to register for taxes ? the impact of formality on firm profitability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4449, The World Bank.
  9. David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2007. "Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 0701, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  10. Marianne Bertrand & Francis Kramarz, 2001. "Does Entry Regulation Hinder Job Creation ? Evidence from the French Retail Industry," Working Papers 2001-12, Centre de Recherche en Economie et Statistique.
  11. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram, 2006. "Entry regulation as a barrier to entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 591-629, December.
  12. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Galiani & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2007. "The Formation of Beliefs: Evidence from the Allocation of Land Titles to Squatters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 209-241, 02.
  13. Guillermo E. Perry & William F. Maloney & Omar S. Arias & Pablo Fajnzylber & Andrew D. Mason & Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, 2007. "Informality : Exit and Exclusion," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6730, October.
  14. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2011. "Does formality improve micro-firm performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 262-276, March.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. The Illusion of Information Campaigns: Just because people don’t know about your policy, it doesn’t mean that an information campaign is needed
    by ? in Development Impact on 2013-05-06 13:00:00
  2. How much do firms want to stay informal?
    by Economic Logician in Economic Logic on 2013-06-14 14:58:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. de Andrade, Gustavo Henrique & Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2013. "A Helping Hand or the Long Arm of the Law? Experimental Evidence on What Governments Can Do to Formalize Firms," IZA Discussion Papers 7402, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2013. "Using administrative data to evaluate municipal reforms : an evaluation of the impact of Minas Facil Expresso," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6368, The World Bank.
  3. Rafael LaPorta & Andrei Shleifer, . "Informality and Development," Working Paper 171301, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  4. Frías, Judith A & Kumler, Todd & Verhoogen, Eric A, 2013. "Enlisting Employees in Improving Payroll-Tax Compliance: Evidence from Mexico," CEPR Discussion Papers 9622, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Margolis, David N., 2014. "By Choice and by Necessity: Entrepreneurship and Self-Employment in the Developing World," IZA Discussion Papers 8273, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Rahman, Aminur, 2013. "SME’s registration: Evidence from an RCT in Bangladesh," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 573-578.

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