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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

We conduct a field experiment in Sri Lanka providing informal firms incentives to formalize. Information about the registration process and reimbursement of direct costs has no effect. Payments equivalent to one-half to one month (alternatively, 2 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 which grew rapidly. We find little evidence for other changes in behavior, but formalized firms express more trust in the state.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18019.

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Date of creation: Apr 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18019

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  1. Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2007. "Entry regulation and business start-ups : evidence from Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4322, The World Bank.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  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. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2934, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. 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.
  7. 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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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
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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. 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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