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Government Policy in the Formal and Informal Sectors

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Abstract

The paper quantitatively investigates, in general equilibrium, the interaction between the firms' choice to operate in the formal or the informal sector and government policy on taxation and enforcement, given a level of regulation. A static version of Ghironi and Melitz’s (2005) industry model is used to show that firms with lower productivity endogenously choose to operate in the informal sector. I use cross-country data on taxes, measures of informality, and measures of regulation (entry and compliance costs, red tape, etc) to back out how high the enforcement levels must be country by country to make the theory match the data. Welfare gains from policy reforms can be fairly large. I find also that welfare gains from reducing regulation are almost twice those computed for the policy reform. Finally, distortions associated with informality account for a factor of 1.5 of the output per capita difference between the richest and the poorest countries.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies in its series Seminar Papers with number 751.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 06 Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0751

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Postal: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-162000
Fax: +46-8-161443
Web page: http://www.iies.su.se/
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Keywords: Informal economy; General equilibrium; Regulation;

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References

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  1. Yoshiaki Azuma & Herschel I. Grossman, 2002. "A Theory of the Informal Sector," NBER Working Papers 8823, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andre Shleifer, 2000. "The Regulation of Entry," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1904, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G., 2000. "Informality and rent-seeking bureaucracies in a model of long-run growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 173-197, August.
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  6. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  7. Fabio Ghironi & Marc Melitz, 2004. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heterogeneous Firms," 2004 Meeting Papers 451, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  8. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  9. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  11. 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.
  12. Banerjee, A.V., 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," Working papers 97-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  16. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  17. Andrew B Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and productivity in international trade," Working Papers 00-08, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  18. Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "Timing Tax Evasion," Working Papers 04.07, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  19. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
  20. 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.
  21. repec:att:wimass:9610 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
  23. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1289-1332, November.
  25. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  26. Amaral, Pedro S. & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "A competitive model of the informal sector," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1541-1553, October.
  27. 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.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Mitra, Shalini, 2013. "Informality, financial development and macroeconomic volatility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 454-457.
  2. Julio Cesar Leal Ordonez, 2014. "Tax collection, the informal sector, and productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(2), pages 262-286, April.
  3. Zoe Kuehn, 2007. "Tax rates, governance, and the informal economy in high-income countries," Economics Working Papers we078551, Universidad Carlos III, Departamento de Economía.
  4. Nejat Anbarci & Pedro Gomis-Porqueras & Marcus Pivato, 2013. "Formal and Informal Markets: A Strategic and Dynamic Perspective," Economics Series 2013_6, Deakin University, Faculty of Business and Law, School of Accounting, Economics and Finance.
  5. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Shadow economies around the world: novel insights, accepted knowledge, and new estimates," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 139-171, February.
  6. Amedeo Argentiero & Carlo Andrea BOLLINO, 2013. "The Mmeasurement of Underground Economy: A Dynamic-Simulation Based Approach," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 123/2013, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia, Finanza e Statistica.

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