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Informalidad empresarial en Colombia: alternativas para impulsar la productividd, el empleo y los ingresos


  • Mauricio Santa María S.


  • Sandra Rozo V.



Este documento estudia los determinantes de la informalidad empresarial en Colombia. El análisis se realiza tanto cuantitativa, como cualitativamente. El primero se desarrolla con base en el Censo Empresarial de Cali y Yumbo - 2005, el cual permite estudiar por primera vez la incidencia y los determinantes de la informalidad en empresas de cualquier tamaño. Los resultados indican que, en las microempresas, la informalidad es un fenómeno generalizado y que, en muchos casos, tiende a desvanecerse con el crecimiento de las empresas. Por otra parte, dentro del grupo de empresas grandes y medianas la informalidad obedece a otro tipo de factores, entre los que se destacan los altos costos de la formalidad y el desconocimiento de los beneficios a operar formalmente. Por otro lado, el análisis cualitativo se desarrolla con base a sesiones de grupo dirigidas a empresarios formales e informales, lo cual facilita estudiar aspectos que no pueden ser identificados sólo con análisis de cifras y estadísticas. Con base a los resultados de estos ejercicios, combinados con un análisis exhaustivo de los incentivos gubernamentales y una descripción de la experiencia internacional en torno a este fenómeno, se formula un grupo de recomendaciones de política dirigidas a aumentar los niveles de productividad empresarial en el país y, por esta vía, incrementar los niveles de empleo formal y de ingresos de los trabajadores y de sus familias. Éstas están orientadas principalmente a aumentar los beneficios netos de la formalidad.Abstract: This document studies the determinants of firm informality in Colombia based both on a quantitative and a qualitative approach. The former is carried out using the Cali and Yumbo Enterprise Census for the year 2005, which allowed, for the first time, to analyze informality over firms of any size. Estimations show that incidence of informality among of small firms (microempresas") is strikingly large and, many times, tends to disappear with its growth. Informality in larger firms, on the other hand, is associated to other factors, such as high formality costs and lack of knowledge about the benefits of being formal. The qualitative analysis was carried out based on a series of focus groups directed to informal and formal employers. These sessions facilitated the identification of their perceptions around this phenomenon, providing important "unobserved" clues as to why are they formal or informal. Based on the results of these exercises, plus the analyses of international experience and some governmental incentives related to informality, some policy recommendations were formulated to increase the pace of productivity growth in Colombia and, through this channel, to increase formal employment and labor incomes. These recommendations seek to raise the net benefits of formality in Colombia."

Suggested Citation

  • Mauricio Santa María S. & Sandra Rozo V., 2008. "Informalidad empresarial en Colombia: alternativas para impulsar la productividd, el empleo y los ingresos," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009189, FEDESARROLLO.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000123:009189

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mauricio Cárdenas & Carolina Mejía M., 2007. "Informalidad en Colombia: nueva evidencia," COYUNTURA ECONÓMICA, FEDESARROLLO, December.
    2. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 1999. "Shadow Economies Around the World - Size, Causes, and Consequences," CESifo Working Paper Series 196, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcela Meléndez Arjona & Guillermo Perry, 2009. "Industrial policies in Colombia," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009138, FEDESARROLLO.
    2. Ana Maria Oviedo & Mark R. Thomas & Kamer Karakurum-Ozdemir, 2009. "Economic Informality : Causes, Costs, and Policies - A Literature Survey," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5917.
    3. Fabio Sánchez & Valentina Duque & Mauricio Ruíz, 2009. "Costos laborales y no laborales y su impacto sobre el desempleo, la duración del desempleo y la informalidad en Colombia, 1980-2007," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 005540, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    4. World Bank, 2012. "Ecuador : The Faces of Informality (Las Caras de La Informalidad)
      [Ecuador - Las caras de la informalidad]
      ," World Bank Other Operational Studies 13252, The World Bank.
    5. Mauricio Santa María S. & Carlos Felipe Prada L. & Ana Virginia Mujica P., 2009. "Oportunidades, desafíos y barreras de la movilidad laboral en Colombia: reflexiones para la población en pobreza extrema y moderada," WORKING PAPERS SERIES. DOCUMENTOS DE TRABAJO 009187, FEDESARROLLO.

    More about this item


    Informalidad; informalidad empresarial; Colombia; costo-beneficio.Informality; firm informality; Colombia; cost-benefit.;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • L20 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - General
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance


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