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Informality in the Process of Development and Growth

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  • Norman V. Loayza

Abstract

“Informality” is a term used to describe the collection of firms, workers, and activities that operate outside the legal and regulatory systems. It is widespread in the majority of developing countries—in a typical developing economy, the informal sector produces about 35 percent of gross domestic product and employs 70 percent of the labor force. This paper studies informality in the context of economic development by presenting a model and projections that link informality, regulations, migration, and economic growth. This analytical framework highlights the trade-offs between formality and informality, the relationship between the different types of informality, and the connection between them and the forces of labor, capital, and productivity growth. The paper models the behavior of the informal sector based on the following fundamental asymmetry: formal firms confront higher labor costs while informal firms face higher capital costs and lower productivity. Using mandated minimum wages as the policy-induced distortion, the model first studies the static allocation of formal and informal capital and labor in a modern economy. Second, it opens the possibility of labor migration from a rudimentary economy with an ample supply of labor (rural areas or less advanced neighboring countries). Third, the model analyzes the dynamic behavior of the formal and informal sectors, considering how they affect and are affected by economic growth and labor migration. Then, the paper presents projections for the size of labor informality, in the modern and rudimentary economies, in the next two decades for a large group of countries representing all regions of the world. The projections are based on the calibration and simulation of the model and serve to discuss its usefulness and limitations.
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Suggested Citation

  • Norman V. Loayza, 2016. "Informality in the Process of Development and Growth," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(12), pages 1856-1916, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:39:y:2016:i:12:p:1856-1916
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    Cited by:

    1. Njangang, Henri, 2018. "Does the size of the informal economy impede the impact of remittances on economic growth? Evidence from Sub-Saharan African countries," MPRA Paper 90187, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence

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