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The impact of formality on firm profitability in Bolivia: an heterogeneous assessment

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  • Ugarte, Darwin

    () (Economics School of Louvain)

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that formality improves micro-firms profits in Bolivia. This gain is only for firms with 2 to 5 workers, while smaller and larger firms would lose out by formalizing (McKenzie and Sakho, 2010). However, as much of the empirical literature on this topic, the estimations are based on strong assumptions about unobservables. If the returns to formality vary among firms and these variations influence selection into formality, traditional estimators are biased (Heckman and Vytlacil, 2007). In this paper we consider these elements to estimate the heterogeneous effects of formality on firm profits in Bolivia. We find remarkable heterogeneity in the returns to formality, from -3% to 6%. The group of firms with positive marginal effects from formality corresponds to those which are most likely to register. We also characterize the firms that likely benefit from having a formal status. These would correspond to large firms which work at big scales.

Suggested Citation

  • Ugarte, Darwin, 2012. "The impact of formality on firm profitability in Bolivia: an heterogeneous assessment," Revista Latinoamericana de Desarrollo Economico, Instituto de Investigaciones Socio-Económicas (IISEC), Universidad Católica Boliviana, issue 17, pages 53-74, Mayo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:revlde:1702
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    File URL: http://www.iisec.ucb.edu.bo/journal/articulos/1702.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2011. "Does formality improve micro-firm performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 262-276, March.
    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. David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2006. "Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico," Discussion Papers 06-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
    4. 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.
    5. Gaaitzen De Vries, 2010. "Small Retailers in Brazil: Are Formal Firms Really More Productive?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(8), pages 1345-1366.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal Sectors; Tax Registration; Heterogeneous treatment effects;

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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