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The Informal Sector: An Equilibrium Model And Some Empirical Evidence From Brazil

  • ÁUREO DE PAULA
  • JOSÉ A. SCHEINKMAN

We test implications of a simple equilibrium model of informality using a survey of 48,000+ small firms in Brazil. In the model, agent's ability to manage production differ and informal firms face a higher cost of capital and limitation on size, although these informal firms avoid tax payments. As a result, informal firms are managed by less able entrepreneurs, are smaller and employ a lower capital-labor ratio. When education is an imperfect proxy for ability, the model predicts that the interaction of the manager's education and formality is positively correlated with firm size. Using the model, we estimate that informal firms in our dataset faced at least 1.3 times the cost of capital of formal firms.

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Article provided by International Association for Research in Income and Wealth in its journal Review of Income and Wealth.

Volume (Year): 57 (2011)
Issue (Month): (05)
Pages: S8-S26

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Handle: RePEc:bla:revinw:v:57:y:2011:i::p:s8-s26
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  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. Stephane Straub, 2004. "Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel," ESE Discussion Papers 101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  4. Dabla-Norris, Era & Gradstein, Mark & Inchauste, Gabriela, 2008. "What causes firms to hide output? The determinants of informality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 1-27, February.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2009. "Value Added Taxes, Chain Effects and Informality," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-030, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  8. 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.
  9. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  10. 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.
  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.
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