The Informal Sector
AbstractThis paper investigates the determinants of informal economic activity. We present two equilibrium models of the determinants of informality and test their implications using a survey of 50,000+ 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. 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 Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2007 Meeting Papers with number 117.
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Contact details of provider:
Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Christian Zimmermann Economic Research Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis PO Box 442 St. Louis MO 63166-0442 USA
Web page: http://www.EconomicDynamics.org/society.htm
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Aureo de Paula & Jose A Sheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001663, UCLA Department of Economics.
- Áureo de Paula & José A. Scheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," NBER Working Papers 13486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- 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.
- Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
- H2 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue
- K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
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.:
- 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.
- Edward P. Lazear, 2005.
Journal of Labor Economics,
University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 649-680, October.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stephane Straub, 2004.
"Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel,"
ESE Discussion Papers
101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Alan A. Tait, 1991. "Value-Added Tax: Administrative and Policy Issues," IMF Occasional Papers 88, International Monetary Fund.
- 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.
- Almeida, Rita & Carneiro, Pedro, 2005. "Enforcement of labor regulation, informal labor, and firm performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3756, The World Bank.
- Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
- 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.
- 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.
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: (Christian Zimmermann).
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.