IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v157y2018icp1-14.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Does inducing informal firms to formalize make sense? Experimental evidence from Benin

Author

Listed:
  • Benhassine, Najy
  • McKenzie, David
  • Pouliquen, Victor
  • Santini, Massimiliano

Abstract

Efforts to bring informal firms into the formal sector are often based on a view that this will bring benefits to the firms themselves, or at least benefit governments through increasing the tax base. A randomized experiment based around the introduction of the entreprenant legal status in Benin is used to test these assumptions, along with supplementary efforts to enhance the presumed benefits of formalizing to firms. Few firms register when just given information about the new regime, but our full package of supplementary efforts boosts formalization by 16.3 percentage points. However, this formalization does not bring firms higher sales or profits, and the cost of formalizing these firms exceeds the added taxation they will pay over the next decade. We show how better targeting of these policies towards firms that look more like formal firms to begin with can increase the formalization rate and improve cost-effectiveness.

Suggested Citation

  • Benhassine, Najy & McKenzie, David & Pouliquen, Victor & Santini, Massimiliano, 2018. "Does inducing informal firms to formalize make sense? Experimental evidence from Benin," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 157(C), pages 1-14.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:157:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2017.11.004
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272717301883
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Yoav Benjamini & Abba M. Krieger & Daniel Yekutieli, 2006. "Adaptive linear step-up procedures that control the false discovery rate," Biometrika, Biometrika Trust, vol. 93(3), pages 491-507, September.
    2. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
    3. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "Informality and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 109-126, Summer.
    4. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2013. "The Demand for, and Consequences of, Formalization among Informal Firms in Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 122-150, April.
    5. De Giorgi, Giacomo & Rahman, Aminur, 2013. "SME’s registration: Evidence from an RCT in Bangladesh," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 573-578.
    6. David McKenzie & Anna Luisa Paffhausen, 2019. "Small Firm Death in Developing Countries," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 101(4), pages 645-657, October.
    7. Galiani, Sebastian & Meléndez, Marcela & Ahumada, Camila Navajas, 2017. "On the effect of the costs of operating formally: New experimental evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 143-157.
    8. McKenzie, David & Seynabou Sakho, Yaye, 2010. "Does it pay firms to register for taxes? The impact of formality on firm profitability," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 15-24, January.
    9. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2014. "What Are We Learning from Business Training and Entrepreneurship Evaluations around the Developing World?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(1), pages 48-82.
    10. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2014. "Entry Regulation and the Formalization of Microenterprises in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 186-201.
    11. Campos,Francisco Moraes Leitao & Goldstein,Markus P. & Mckenzie,David J. & Campos,Francisco Moraes Leitao & Goldstein,Markus P. & Mckenzie,David J., 2015. "Short-term impacts of formalization assistance and a bank information session on business registration and access to finance in Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7183, The World Bank.
    12. Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2011. "Entry regulation and business start-ups: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1501-1515.
    13. Gustavo Henrique de Andrade & Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2016. "A Helping Hand or the Long Arm of the Law? Experimental Evidence on What Governments Can Do to Formalize Firms," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 30(1), pages 24-54.
    14. Anderson, Michael L., 2008. "Multiple Inference and Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 103(484), pages 1481-1495.
    15. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "The Unofficial Economy in Africa," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume I: Government and Institutions, pages 261-306, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
    17. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 200-232, October.
    18. repec:nbr:nberch:13439 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2010. "Who are the Microenterprise Owners? Evidence from Sri Lanka on Tokman versus De Soto," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 63-87, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Guillermo E. Perry & William F. Maloney & Omar S. Arias & Pablo Fajnzylber & Andrew D. Mason & Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, 2007. "Informality : Exit and Exclusion," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6730.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Diaz, Juan Jose & Chacaltana, Juan & Rigolini, Jamele & Ruiz, Claudia, 2018. "Pathways to Formalization: Going beyond the Formality Dichotomy," IZA Discussion Papers 11750, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Jukka Pirttilä & Andy McKay & Caroline Schimanski, 2019. "The tax elasticity of formal work in African countries," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-69, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Jessen, Jonas & Kluve, Jochen, 2019. "The Effectiveness of Interventions to Reduce Informality in Low- and Middle Income Countries," IZA Discussion Papers 12487, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. McKay Andy & Pirttilä Jukka & Schimanski Caroline, 2018. "The Elasticity of Formal Work in African Countries," Working Papers 1820, Tampere University, School of Management and Business, Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informality; Small enterprises; Regulatory simplification;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • H25 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Business Taxes and Subsidies

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:157:y:2018:i:c:p:1-14. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.