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Does formality improve micro-firm performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES program

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Author Info

  • Fajnzylber, Pablo
  • Maloney, William F.
  • Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V.

Abstract

This paper exploits an extensive Brazilian micro-enterprise survey and the 1996 introduction of a business tax reduction and simplification scheme (SIMPLES) to examine three questions. First, do high tax rates and complex tax regulations really constitute a barrier to the formalization of micro-firms? Second, does formalization improve firm performance measured along several dimensions, including revenues, employment and capital stock? Third, what are the channels through which this occurs? We find that SIMPLES led to a significant increase in formality in several dimensions. Moreover, newly created firms that opt for operating formally show higher levels of revenue and profits, employ more workers and are more capital intensive (only for those firms that have employees). The channel through which this occurs is not access to credit or contracts with larger firms. Rather, it appears that the lower cost of contracting labor leads to adopting production techniques that involve a permanent location and a larger paid labor force.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 94 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 262-276

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:94:y:2011:i:2:p:262-276

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

Related research

Keywords: Micro-firms Self-employment Informality;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Smriti Sharma, 2014. "Benefits of a registration policy for microenterprise performance in India," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 153-164, January.
  2. 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," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6435, The World Bank.
  3. Bruhn, Miriam, 2013. "A tale of two species: Revisiting the effect of registration reform on informal business owners in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 275-283.
  4. Gabrieli, T. & Galvao Jr, A. F. & Montes-Rojas, G., 2010. "Who benefits from reducing the cost of formality? Quantile regression discontinuity analysis," Working Papers 10/07, Department of Economics, City University London.
  5. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2013. "The Demand for, and Consequences of, Formalization among Informal Firms in Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 122-50, April.
  6. Ugarte, Darwin, 2012. "The impact of formality on firm profitability in Bolivia: an heterogeneous assessment," Revista Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Economico, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana, issue 17, pages 53-74, Mayo.
  7. Rand, John & Torm, Nina, 2012. "The Benefits of Formalization: Evidence from Vietnamese Manufacturing SMEs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 983-998.
  8. World Bank, 2012. "World Development Report 2013 : Jobs," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 11843, October.
  9. Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2013. "Entry regulation and formalization of microenterprises in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6507, The World Bank.
  10. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "Reforming Business Taxes : What is the Effect on Private Sector Development?," World Bank Other Operational Studies 11053, The World Bank.
  11. Benjamin, Nancy & Beegle, Kathleen & Recanatini, Francesca & Santini, Massimiliano, 2014. "Informal economy and the World Bank," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6888, The World Bank.

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