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Lurking in the Cities: Urbanization and the Informal Economy

  • Ceyhun Elgin
  • Cem Oyvat

This study investigates the empirical relationship between the level of urbanization and size of the informal economy using cross-country datasets proxying GDP and employment shares of urban informal sector. Our estimation results indicate that there is an inverted-U relationship between informality and the level of urbanization. That is, the share of the informal sector grows in the early phases of urbanization due to several pull and push factors; however, it tends to fall in the latter phases. We also show that factors like level of taxes, trade openness, and institutional quality tend to affect the size of the informal economy.

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File URL: http://www.econ.boun.edu.tr/public_html/RePEc/pdf/201310.pdf
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Paper provided by Bogazici University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2013/10.

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Date of creation: Oct 2013
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Handle: RePEc:bou:wpaper:2013/10
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  1. James E. Rauch, 1993. "Economic Development, Urban Underemployment, and Income Inequality," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 26(4), pages 901-18, November.
  2. Moser, Caroline O. N., 1978. "Informal sector or petty commodity production: Dualism or dependence in urban development?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 6(9-10), pages 1041-1064.
  3. Swaminathan, M., 1991. "Understanding the "Informal Sector": A Survey," Research Paper 95, World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  4. E. Paul Durrenberger, 2005. "Labour," Chapters, in: A Handbook of Economic Anthropology, chapter 8 Edward Elgar.
  5. Yuki, Kazuhiro, 2007. "Urbanization, informal sector, and development," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 76-103, September.
  6. Axel Dreher & Friedrich Schneider, 2006. "Corruption and the Shadow Economy: An Empirical Analysis," KOF Working papers 06-123, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  7. Wuyts, Marc, 2001. "Informal Economy, Wage Goods and Accumulation under Structural Adjustment Theoretical Reflections Based on the Tanzanian Experience," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 25(3), pages 417-38, May.
  8. Ceyhun Elgin, 2010. "Political Turnover, Taxes and the Shadow Economy," Working Papers 2010/08, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
  9. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Shadow economies around the world: novel insights, accepted knowledge, and new estimates," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 139-171, February.
  10. Williamson, Jeffrey G., 1988. "Migration and urbanization," Handbook of Development Economics, in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 11, pages 425-465 Elsevier.
  11. Yamada, Gustavo, 1996. "Urban Informal Employment and Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 289-314, January.
  12. Ceyhun Elgin & Oguz Oztunali, 2012. "Shadow Economies around the World: Model Based Estimates," Working Papers 2012/05, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
  13. Schneider, Friedrich G., 2007. "Shadow Economies and Corruption All Over the World: New Estimates for 145 Countries," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 1, pages 1-66.
  14. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  15. Frey, Bruno S. & Weck-Hanneman, Hannelore, 1984. "The hidden economy as an 'unobserved' variable," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1-2), pages 33-53.
  16. Harris, John R & Todaro, Michael P, 1970. "Migration, Unemployment & Development: A Two-Sector Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(1), pages 126-42, March.
  17. Friedrich Schneider & Andreas Buehn & Claudio Montenegro, 2010. "New Estimates for the Shadow Economies all over the World," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 443-461.
  18. Tokman, Victor E., 1978. "An exploration into the nature of informal--formal sector relationships," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 6(9-10), pages 1065-1075.
  19. Ihrig, Jane & Moe, Karine S., 2004. "Lurking in the shadows: the informal sector and government policy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 541-557, April.
  20. Ranis, Gustav & Stewart, Frances, 1999. "V-Goods and the Role of the Urban Informal Sector in Development," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 259-88, January.
  21. Friedrich Schneider, 2004. "Shadow Economies around the World: What do we really know?," IAW Discussion Papers 16, Institut für Angewandte Wirtschaftsforschung (IAW).
  22. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  23. Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
  24. Banerjee, Biswajit, 1983. "The Role of the Informal Sector in the Migration Process: A Test of Probabilistic Migration Models and Labour Market Segmentation for India," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(3), pages 399-422, November.
  25. Todaro, Michael P, 1969. "A Model for Labor Migration and Urban Unemployment in Less Developed Countries," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 59(1), pages 138-48, March.
  26. Frey, Bruno S & Weck, Hannelore, 1983. "Estimating the Shadow Economy: A 'Naive' Approach," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 35(1), pages 23-44, March.
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