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Understanding Informality

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  • Kose, M. Ayhan
  • Elgin, Ceyhun
  • Ohnsorge, Franziska
  • Yu, Shu

Abstract

This paper introduces a comprehensive database of informal economic activity. The database focuses on measures that have strong cross-country and over time coverage: it includes both model-based and survey-based measures of informality and covers more than 160 economies for the period 1990-2018. The paper illustrates two applications of the database. First, it distills stylized facts of informal activity, including its declining trend and pervasiveness in emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). Second, it documents the cyclical features of the informal economy. Overall, informal economy recessions (recoveries) do not differ significantly from those of formal economy. Like formal-economy business cycles, informal-economy business cycles tend to be shallower in advanced economies than in EMDEs. Informal employment in both advanced economies and EMDEs appears to be largely acyclical.

Suggested Citation

  • Kose, M. Ayhan & Elgin, Ceyhun & Ohnsorge, Franziska & Yu, Shu, 2021. "Understanding Informality," CEPR Discussion Papers 16497, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:16497
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    4. Ceyhun Elgin & M. ayhan Köse & Franziska Ohnsorge & Shu Yu, 2021. "Growing Apart or Moving Together? Synchronization of Informal and Formal Economy Cycles Abstract:," Working Papers 2021/04, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    5. Feng, Ying & Ren, Jie, 2023. "Skill bias, financial frictions, and selection into entrepreneurship," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 162(C).
    6. 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.
    7. Duc Nguyen, 2022. "Heterogeneous Paths of Structural Transformation," Working Papers tecipa-742, University of Toronto, Department of Economics.
    8. Philippe Adair & Vladimir Hlasny, 2022. "Labour Market Segmentation and Formalising Informality in MENA Countries," Erudite Working Paper 2022-07, Erudite.
    9. Rahman, Sami Ur & Faisal, Faisal & Ali, Adnan & Sulimany, Hamid Ghazi H & Bazhair, Ayman Hassan, 2023. "Do financial technology and financial development lessen shadow economy? Evidence from BRICST economies using heterogenous bootstrap panel causality," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 201-210.
    10. Santanu Chatterjee & Stephen J. Turnovsky, 2023. "Government expenditure and informality in an emerging economy: the recent experience of India," Indian Economic Review, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 293-318, September.
    11. Prianto Budi Saptono & Gustofan Mahmud, 2022. "Institutional environment and tax performance: empirical evidence from developing economies," Public Sector Economics, Institute of Public Finance, vol. 46(2), pages 207-237.
    12. K K C Sineth Kannangara & Yanrui Wu, 2023. "Shadow Economy in Sri Lanka: A Review and New Estimates," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 23-04, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.
    13. Masca, Simona-Gabriela & Chis, Diana-Maria, 2023. "Distributional implications of informal economy in the EU countries: Accounting for the spread of tax evasion benefits and cultural characteristics," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 87(PB).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal economy; Self-employment; Employment; Output; Business cycles;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J46 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Informal Labor Market
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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