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El sector informal en México. Hechos y explicaciones fundamentales


  • Loayza, Norman

    (Banco Mundial)

  • Sugawara, Naotaka

    (Banco Mundial)


Adopting a legal definition of informality, this paper studies the causes of informality in general and with a particular application to Mexico. It starts with a discussion on the definition and measures of informality. It then argues and provides evidence that informality is not only a reflection of underdevelopment but may also be the source of further economic retardation. Next, the paper analyzes informality’s main determinants, arguing that informality is not single-caused but results from the combination of poor public services, a burdensome regulatory regime, and weak monitoring and enforcement capacity by the state. This combination is especially explosive when the country suffers from low educational achievement and features demographic pressures and primary production structures. The paper then evaluates the empirical relevance of each determinant of informality to the specific case of Mexico.// Partiendo de una definición legal de la informalidad, este artículo estudia las causas de la informalidad en general y su aplicación al caso particular de México. El artículo comienza con un análisis de la definición y los índices de la informalidad. Acto seguido, argumenta y aporta pruebas de que la informalidad es no sólo un reflejo del subdesarrollo, sino que podría también ser la fuente de un mayor atraso económico. Posteriormente se analiza los principales determinantes de la informalidad, a la vez que se argumenta que la informalidad no es resultado de una causa única sino de la combinación de las deficiencias de los servicios públicos, un régimen normativo gravoso y la poca capacidad del Estado para supervisar la actividad y hacer valer la ley. Esta combinación resulta particularmente explosiva cuando el país en análisis tiene escaso rendimiento educacional y está sometido a presiones demográficas y estructuras productivas primarias. Por último, se evalúa la relevancia empírica de cada uno de los determinantes de la informalidad en el caso específico de México.

Suggested Citation

  • Loayza, Norman & Sugawara, Naotaka, 2009. "El sector informal en México. Hechos y explicaciones fundamentales," El Trimestre Económico, Fondo de Cultura Económica, vol. 0(304), pages 887-920, octubre-d.
  • Handle: RePEc:elt:journl:v:76:y:2009:i:304:p:887-920

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    Cited by:

    1. Islas C., Alejandro & Cortez, Willy Walter, 2013. "An assessment of the dynamics between the permanent and transitory components of Mexico's output and unemployment," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), December.

    More about this item


    regulation; government performance; economic growth; informal economy; regulación; desempeño del gobierno; crecimiento económico; economía informal;

    JEL classification:

    • K20 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - General
    • K30 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - General
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements


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