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Are Large Informal Firms More Productive than the Small Informal Firms? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys in Africa

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  • Amin, Mohammad
  • Islam, Asif

Abstract

Using data for over 500 informal or unregistered firms in seven countries in Africa, this study explores how labor productivity varies between small and large informal firms. We find robust evidence that small informal firms have higher labor productivity than large informal firms. Thus, even though poor performance of informal firms is typically attributed to their small size vis-à-vis registered or formal sector firms, incremental increases in the size of informal firms does not necessarily imply a narrowing of the formal–informal firm productivity gap.

Suggested Citation

  • Amin, Mohammad & Islam, Asif, 2015. "Are Large Informal Firms More Productive than the Small Informal Firms? Evidence from Firm-Level Surveys in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 374-385.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:74:y:2015:i:c:p:374-385
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2015.05.008
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    3. Aalia Cassim & Kezia Lilenstein & Morne Oosthuizen & Francois Steenkamp, 2016. "Informality and Inclusive Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Working Papers 201602, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.
    4. Assefa, Dawit Z. & Liao, Ching T. & Misganaw, Bisrat A., 2022. "Unpacking the negative impact of initial informality on innovation: The mediating roles of investments in R&D and employee training," Technovation, Elsevier, vol. 114(C).
    5. Islam,Asif Mohammed & Amin,Mohammad, 2022. "The Gender Labor Productivity Gap across Informal Firms," Policy Research Working Paper Series 10011, The World Bank.
    6. Gareth Liu-Evans & Shalini Mitra, 2020. "Formal sector enforcement and welfare," Working Papers 202030, University of Liverpool, Department of Economics.
    7. Andam, K. & Asante, S., 2018. "Determinants of firm exit and growth in the food processing sector: Evidence from Ghana," 2018 Conference, July 28-August 2, 2018, Vancouver, British Columbia 277487, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    8. Mohammad Amin & Cedric Okou, 2020. "Casting a shadow: Productivity of formal firms and informality," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 24(4), pages 1610-1630, November.
    9. Sutter, Christopher & Bruton, Garry D. & Chen, Juanyi, 2019. "Entrepreneurship as a solution to extreme poverty: A review and future research directions," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 197-214.
    10. Andam, Kwaw S. & Asante, Seth, 2018. "Firm employment, exit, and growth in the food processing sector: Evidence from Ghana," IFPRI discussion papers 1755, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    11. Aga,Gemechu A. & Francis,David C. & Jolevski,Filip & Rodriguez Meza,Jorge Luis & Wimpey,Joshua Seth, 2022. "Surveying Informal Businesses : Methodology and Applications," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9905, The World Bank.
    12. Mohammad Amin & Asif M. Islam, 2022. "Does manager education play a role in the productivity of informal firms in developing economies? Evidence from firm‐level surveys," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(2), pages 962-984, May.
    13. Ibrahim Mike Okumu & Joseph Mawejje, 2020. "Labour productivity in African manufacturing: Does the level of skills development matter?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 38(4), pages 441-464, July.
    14. Shamsuzzoha & Makoto Tanaka, 2021. "Formalization of manufacturing firms in Bangladesh," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 1668-1694, August.

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