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What causes firms to hide output? The determinants of informality

  • Dabla-Norris, Era
  • Gradstein, Mark
  • Inchauste, Gabriela

In many developing countries, a significant part of economic activity takes place in the informal sector. Earlier work has examined the determinants of the size of the informal sector, focusing separately on factors such as tax and regulation burden, financial market development, and the quality of the legal system. We revisit this issue by using an integrated dataset which contains rich information on all these aspects. Testing the channels affecting the degree of informality, we find evidence that all previously identified factors indeed play a role in driving informality. In particular, and consistent with the suggested theoretical model, we find support for the significance of the quality of the legal system.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 85 (2008)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (February)
Pages: 1-27

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:85:y:2008:i:1-2:p:1-27
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  1. Era Dabla-Norris & Andrew Feltenstein, 2005. "The underground economy and its macroeconomic consequences," Journal of Economic Policy Reform, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(2), pages 153-174.
  2. 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.
  3. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
  4. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, 09.
  5. Johnson, Simon & McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 1999. "Why do Firms Hide? Bribes and Unofficial Activity After Communism," CEPR Discussion Papers 2105, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. 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.
  7. Stephane Straub, 2005. "Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel," ESE Discussion Papers 101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  8. Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G., 2000. "Informality and rent-seeking bureaucracies in a model of long-run growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 173-197, August.
  9. Yoshiaki Azuma & Herschel I. Grossman, 2002. "A Theory of the Informal Sector," Working Papers 2002-07, Brown University, Department of Economics.
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  13. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Warlters, Michael, 2005. "Taxation base in developing countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(4), pages 625-646, April.
  14. RAFAEL LaPORTA & FLORENCIO LOPEZ-de-SILANES & ANDREI SHLEIFER & ROBERT W. VISHNY, . "Legal Determinants of External Finance,"," CRSP working papers 324, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  15. 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.
  16. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 2002. "Property Rights and Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1335-1356, December.
  17. Marcouiller, Douglas & Young, Leslie, 1995. "The Black Hole of Graft: The Predatory State and the Informal Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 630-46, June.
  18. Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, 1998. "Law and Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(6), pages 1113-1155, December.
  19. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Ross Levine, 2000. "A New Database on the Structure and Development of the Financial Sector," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 14(3), pages 597-605, September.
  20. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-92, May.
  21. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson, 2005. "Unbundling Institutions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(5), pages 949-995, October.
  22. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  23. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
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