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Government policy in the formal and informal sectors

  • Prado, Mauricio

The paper quantitatively investigates, in general equilibrium, the interaction between the firms' choice to operate in the formal or the informal sector and government policy on taxation and enforcement, given a level of regulation. A static version of Ghironi and Melitz's (2005) industry model is used to show that firms with lower productivity endogenously choose to operate in the informal sector. I use cross-country data on taxes, measures of informality, and measures of regulation (entry and compliance costs, red tape, etc.) to back out how high the enforcement levels must be country by country to make the theory match the data. The welfare gains from policy reforms are on average 1.2% (measured in terms of consumption) for OECD countries. I also find that the welfare gains from reducing regulation are on average 2.1%. Finally, performing a similar decomposition to that of Hall and Jones (1999), I find that distortions associated with informality account for a factor of 1.5 of the output per capita difference between the richest and the poorest countries.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal European Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 55 (2011)
Issue (Month): 8 ()
Pages: 1120-1136

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Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:8:p:1120-1136
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/eer

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  1. Ghironi, Fabio & Melitz, Marc J, 2004. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heteroegenous Firms," CEPR Discussion Papers 4595, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Jose Scheinkman & Aureo de Paula, 2007. "The Informal Sector," 2007 Meeting Papers 117, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Pierre-Daniel G. Sarte, 1999. "Informality and rent-seeking bureaucracies in a model of long-run growth," Working Paper 99-07, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & López-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," CEPR Discussion Papers 2953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jensen & Samuel Kortum, 2003. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(4), pages 1268-1290, September.
  8. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  9. Mark J. Melitz, 2002. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," NBER Working Papers 8881, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Banerjee, A.V., 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," Working papers 97-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  12. Yoshiaki Azuma & Herschel I. Grossman, 2008. "A Theory Of The Informal Sector," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(1), pages 62-79, 03.
  13. Steven Shavell & A. Mitchell Polinsky, 2000. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 45-76, March.
  14. Tybout, James, 1998. "Manufacuring firms in developing countries - how well do they do, and why?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1965, The World Bank.
  15. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  16. 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.
  17. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  18. Dirk Niepelt, 2004. "Timing Tax Evasion," Working Papers 04.07, Swiss National Bank, Study Center Gerzensee.
  19. 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.
  20. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
  21. 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.
  22. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  23. Amaral, Pedro S. & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "A competitive model of the informal sector," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1541-1553, October.
  24. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  26. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1289-1332, November.
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