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Government policy in the formal and informal sectors

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  • Prado, Mauricio

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Prado, Mauricio, 2011. "Government policy in the formal and informal sectors," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(8), pages 1120-1136.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:55:y:2011:i:8:p:1120-1136
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2011.04.010
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leal-Ordoñez Julio C., 2014. "The informal sector in contemporary models of the aggregate economy," Working Papers 2014-24, Banco de México.
    2. Costas Meghir & Renata Narita & Jean-Marc Robin, 2015. "Wages and Informality in Developing Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(4), pages 1509-1546, April.
    3. Catalina Granda Carvajal, 2015. "Informality and macroeconomic volatility: do credit constraints matter?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 1095-1111, November.
    4. Mitra, Shalini, 2013. "Informality, financial development and macroeconomic volatility," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 454-457.
    5. Amedeo Argentiero & Carlo Andrea BOLLINO, 2013. "The Mmeasurement of Underground Economy: A Dynamic-Simulation Based Approach," Quaderni del Dipartimento di Economia, Finanza e Statistica 123/2013, Università di Perugia, Dipartimento Economia.
    6. Arturo Anton & Rodolfo Gutierrez, 2016. "Informality and Productivity," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(1), pages 205-217.
    7. Mitra, Shalini, 2014. "Tax Evasion, Tax Policies and the Role Played by Financial Markets," MPRA Paper 58977, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Aljoša Feldina & Sašo Polanec, 2012. "Underreporting and Minimum Wage," LICOS Discussion Papers 32412, LICOS - Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance, KU Leuven.
    9. repec:bla:worlde:v:39:y:2016:i:12:p:1856-1916 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:bla:deveco:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:261-289 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Ceyhun Elgin & Burak Sezgin, 2017. "Sectoral Estimates of Informality: A New Method and An Application to Turkish Economy," Working Papers 2017/02, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    12. repec:liu:liucej:v:13:y:2016:i:2:p:169-198 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Shadow economies around the world: novel insights, accepted knowledge, and new estimates," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 19(1), pages 139-171, February.
    14. Sean M. Dougherty & Octavio R. Escobar, 2016. "Could Mexico become the new ‘China’? Policy drivers of competitiveness and productivity," European Journal of Comparative Economics, Cattaneo University (LIUC), vol. 13(2), pages 169-198, December.
    15. Zoë Kuehn, 2014. "Tax Rates, Governance, And The Informal Economy In High-Income Countries," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(1), pages 405-430, January.
    16. Julio Cesar Leal Ordonez, 2014. "Tax collection, the informal sector, and productivity," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 17(2), pages 262-286, April.
    17. repec:eee:ecmode:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:117-127 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Mazhar, Ummad & Méon, Pierre-Guillaume, 2017. "Taxing the unobservable: The impact of the shadow economy on inflation and taxation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 89-103.
    19. Leal-Ordoñez Julio C., 2015. "Key sectors in economic development: a perspective from input-output linkages and cross-sector misallocation," Working Papers 2015-23, Banco de México.
    20. Fedotenkov, Igor & Schneider, Friedrich, 2017. "Military expenditures and shadow economy in the Baltic States: Is there a link?," MPRA Paper 76194, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. López-Martín Bernabé, 2016. "Informal Sector Misallocation," Working Papers 2016-09, Banco de México.
    22. Norman V. Loayza, 2016. "Informality in the Process of Development and Growth," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(12), pages 1856-1916, December.
    23. repec:spr:joevec:v:28:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s00191-017-0544-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    24. Mendicino, Caterina & Prado, Mauricio, 2014. "Heterogeneous firms and the impact of government policy on welfare and informality," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(1), pages 151-156.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informality; Government policy; Taxation; Enforcement; Regulation;

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • H32 - Public Economics - - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents - - - Firm

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