The Informal Sector
AbstractThis paper investigates the determinants of informal economic activity. We present two equilibrium models of informality and test their implications using a survey of 48,000+ small firms in Brazil. We define informality as tax avoidance; firms in the informal sector avoid tax payments but suffer other limitations. In the first model there is a single industry and informal firms face a higher cost of capital and a limitation on size. As a result informal firms are smaller and have a lower capital labor ratio. When education is an imperfect proxy for ability, we show that the interaction of the managerâs education and formality has a positive correlation with firm size. These implications are supported by our empirical analysis. A novel theoretical contribution in this paper is a model that highlights the role of value added taxes in transmitting informality. It predicts that the informality of a firm is correlated to the informality of firms from which it buys or sells. The model also implies that higher tolerance for informal firms in one production stage increases tax avoidance in downstream and upstream sectors. Empirical analysis shows that, in fact, various measures of formality of suppliers and purchasers (and its enforcement) are correlated with the formality of a firm. Even more interestingly, when we look at sectors where Brazilian firms are not subject to the credit system of value added tax, but instead the value added tax is applied at some stage of production at a rate that is estimated by the State, this chain effect vanishes.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 122247000000001663.
Date of creation: 15 Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.dklevine.com/
Other versions of this item:
- Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Áureo de Paula & José A. Scheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," NBER Working Papers 13486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Jose Scheinkman & Aureo de Paula, 2007. "The Informal Sector," 2007 Meeting Papers 117, Society for Economic Dynamics.
- Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
- H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
- H3 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents
- K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-11-24 (All new papers)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Jung, Young H. & Snow, Arthur & Trandel, Gregory A., 1994. "Tax evasion and the size of the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 391-402, July.
- Rita Almeida & Pedro Carneiro, 2006.
"Enforcement of regulation, informal labor and firm performance,"
CeMMAP working papers
CWP02/06, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Almeida, Rita K. & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of Regulation, Informal Labor and Firm Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1759, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- James Heckman & Carmen Pages, 2003.
"Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean,"
NBER Working Papers
10129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- James J. Heckman & Carmen Pagés, 2004. "Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number heck04-1, May.
- Maloney, William F. & Nunez, Jairo & Cunningham, Wendy & Fiess, Norbert & Montenegro, Claudio & Murrugarra, Edmundo & Santamaria,Mauricio & Sepulveda, Claudia, 2001.
"Measuring the impact of minimum wages : evidence from Latin America,"
Policy Research Working Paper Series
2597, The World Bank.
- William Maloney & Jairo Mendez, 2004. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages. Evidence from Latin America," NBER Chapters, in: Law and Employment: Lessons from Latin America and the Caribbean, pages 109-130 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- William F. Maloney & Jairo Nunez Mendez, 2003. "Measuring the Impact of Minimum Wages: Evidence from Latin America," NBER Working Papers 9800, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Straub, Stéphane, 2005.
"Informal sector: The credit market channel,"
Journal of Development Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 299-321, December.
- Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
- Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2009. "Does Formality Improve Micro-Firm Performance? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES Program," IZA Discussion Papers 4531, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Edward P. Lazear, 2005.
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 649-680, October.
- Loayza, Norman V., 1996.
"The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America,"
Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy,
Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
- Loayza, Norman A., 1997. "The economics of the informal sector : a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1727, The World Bank.
- Koujianou Goldberg, Pinelopi & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003.
"The response of the informal sector to trade liberalization,"
Journal of Development Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 463-496, December.
- Goldberg, Pinelopi Koujianou & Pavcnik, Nina, 2003. "The Response of the Informal Sector to Trade Liberalization," CEPR Discussion Papers 3874, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
- Pinelopi K. Goldberg & Nina Pavcnik, 2003. "The Response of the Informal Sector to Trade Liberalization," NBER Working Papers 9443, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Fortin, Bernard & Marceau, Nicolas & Savard, Luc, 1997. "Taxation, wage controls and the informal sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 293-312, November.
- M. Shahe Emran & Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2002.
"On Selective Indirect Tax Reform in Developing Countries,"
- Emran, M. Shahe & Stiglitz, Joseph E., 2005. "On selective indirect tax reform in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 599-623, April.
- Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
- Alan A. Tait, 1991. "Value-Added Tax," IMF Occasional Papers 88, International Monetary Fund.
- Almeida, Rita & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of labor regulation, informal labor, and firm performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3756, The World Bank.
- R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
- Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David K. Levine).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.