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A Classical Theory of the Informal Sector


  • Gibson, Bill
  • Kelley, Bruce


A major focus of the debate on the informal sector is whether this sector constitutes a 'seedbed of capitalist growth' or simply a reserve army of unemployed. This paper develops a classical model where informal processes may or may not turn formal in the long run. It is further shown that if the state taxes capitalists in order to maintain informal sector incomes, the surplus is likely to fall as formal sector output grows. Thus, the authors conclude that while the informal sector does not necessarily lead to capitalist development, it may serve as a social buffer in its absence. Copyright 1994 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd and The Victoria University of Manchester

Suggested Citation

  • Gibson, Bill & Kelley, Bruce, 1994. "A Classical Theory of the Informal Sector," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 62(1), pages 81-96, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:manch2:v:62:y:1994:i:1:p:81-96

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Mervyn A. King & Mark Robson, 1989. "Endogenous Growth and the role of History," NBER Working Papers 3151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 1990. "Lecture Notes on Economic Growth(II): Five Prototype Models of Endogenous Growth," NBER Working Papers 3564, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Grier, Kevin B. & Tullock, Gordon, 1989. "An empirical analysis of cross-national economic growth, 1951-1980," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 259-276, September.
    5. Russell Cooper & Andrew John, 1988. "Coordinating Coordination Failures in Keynesian Models," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(3), pages 441-463.
    6. Stern, Nicholas, 1991. "The Determinants of Growth," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(404), pages 122-133, January.
    7. Kormendi, Roger C. & Meguire, Philip G., 1985. "Macroeconomic determinants of growth: Cross-country evidence," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 141-163, September.
    8. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Stanley Fischer, 1989. "Lectures on Macroeconomics," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262022834, January.
    9. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
    10. Sala-I-Martin, X., 1990. "Lecture Notes On Economic Growth: Five Prototype Models Of Endogenous Growth," Papers 622, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
    11. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gibson, Bill, 2005. "The transition to a globalized economy: Poverty, human capital and the informal sector in a structuralist CGE model," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 60-94, October.
    2. Lucian-Liviu ALBU, "undated". "A Model to Estimate Informal Economy at Regional Level: Theoretical and Empirical Investigation," Regional and Urban Modeling 284100002, EcoMod.
    3. Albu, Lucian-Liviu, 2003. "Underground economy modelling: simple models with complicated dynamics," MPRA Paper 12447, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Kendall K. Schaefer, 2003. "Capacity Utilization, Income Distribution, and the Urban Informal Sector: An Open-Economy Model," Working Papers wp35, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    5. Anushree Sinha, 2010. "Productivity of Indian Informal Workers," Journal of South Asian Development, , vol. 5(1), pages 15-52, April.
    6. Albu, Lucian-Liviu & Nicolae, Mariana, 2003. "Use of households survey data to estimate the size of the informal economy in Romania," MPRA Paper 14286, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Takao FUKUCHI, 1998. "A Simulation Analysis Of The Urban Informal Sector," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 36(3), pages 225-256, September.

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