Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A Helping Hand or the Long Arm of the Law? Experimental Evidence on What Governments Can Do to Formalize Firms

Contents:

Author Info

  • de Andrade, Gustavo Henrique

    (Governo do Estado de Minas Gerais)

  • Bruhn, Miriam

    ()
    (World Bank)

  • McKenzie, David

    ()
    (World Bank)

Abstract

Many governments have spent much of the past decade trying to extend a helping hand to informal businesses by making it easier and cheaper for them to formalize. Much less effort has been devoted to raising the costs of remaining informal, through increasing enforcement of existing regulations. We conducted a field experiment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in order to test which government actions work in getting informal firms to register. Firms were randomized to a control group or one of four treatment groups: the first received information about how to formalize; the second received this information and free registration costs along with the use of an accountant for a year; the third group was assigned to receive an enforcement visit from a municipal inspector; while the fourth group was assigned to have a neighboring firm receive an enforcement visit to see if enforcement has spillovers. We find zero or negative impacts of information and free cost treatments, and a significant but small increase in formalization from inspections. Our LATE estimates of the impact of actually receiving an inspection are much bigger, giving a 21 to 27 percentage point increase in the likelihood of formalizing. The results show most informal firms won't formalize unless forced to do so, suggesting formality offers little private benefit to them, but the tax revenue benefits to the governments of bringing firms of this size into the formal system more than offset the costs of inspections.

Download Info

If 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.
File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp7402.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7402.

as in new window
Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: May 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7402

Contact details of provider:
Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org

Order Information:
Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Email:

Related research

Keywords: informality; enforcement; small enterprises;

Other versions of this item:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

References listed on IDEAS
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.:
as in new window
  1. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2012. "The Demand for, and Consequences of, Formalization among Informal Firms in Sri Lanka," IZA Discussion Papers 6442, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Bertrand, Marianne & Kramarz, Francis, 2001. "Does Entry Regulation Hinder Job Creation? Evidence from the French Retail Industry," CEPR Discussion Papers, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers 3039, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Lucas Ronconi, 2010. "Enforcement and Compliance with Labor Regulations," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 63(4), pages 719-736, July.
  4. McKenzie, David & Seynabou Sakho, Yaye, 2010. "Does it pay firms to register for taxes? The impact of formality on firm profitability," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 15-24, 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. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2007. "Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) in Household Surveys For Better Economics and Better Policy," Working Papers in Economics, University of Waikato, Department of Economics 07/04, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  7. Bruhn, Miriam, 2008. "License to sell : the effect of business registration reform on entrepreneurial activity in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4538, The World Bank.
  8. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram, 2006. "Entry regulation as a barrier to entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 591-629, December.
  9. David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2007. "Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM 0701, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  10. Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2011. "Entry regulation and business start-ups: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1501-1515.
  11. 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, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 262-276, March.
  12. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

Citations

Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
as in new window

Cited by:
  1. Benjamin, Nancy & Beegle, Kathleen & Recanatini, Francesca & Santini, Massimiliano, 2014. "Informal economy and the World Bank," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6888, The World Bank.

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7402. See general 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: (Mark Fallak).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.