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Government Policy in the Formal and Informal Sectors

The paper quantitatively investigates, in general equilibrium, the interaction between the firms' choice to operate in the formal or the informal sector and government policy on taxation and enforcement, given a level of regulation. A static version of Ghironi and Melitz’s (2005) industry model is used to show that firms with lower productivity endogenously choose to operate in the informal sector. I use cross-country data on taxes, measures of informality, and measures of regulation (entry and compliance costs, red tape, etc) to back out how high the enforcement levels must be country by country to make the theory match the data. Welfare gains from policy reforms can be fairly large. I find also that welfare gains from reducing regulation are almost twice those computed for the policy reform. Finally, distortions associated with informality account for a factor of 1.5 of the output per capita difference between the richest and the poorest countries.

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File URL: http://su.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:197101/FULLTEXT01
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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies in its series Seminar Papers with number 751.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: 06 Aug 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iiessp:0751
Contact details of provider: Postal: Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-162000
Fax: +46-8-161443
Web page: http://www.iies.su.se/

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  1. Tybout, James, 1998. "Manufacuring firms in developing countries - how well do they do, and why?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1965, The World Bank.
  2. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  3. Andrew B. Bernard & Jonathan Eaton & J. Bradford Jenson & Samuel Kortum, 2000. "Plants and Productivity in International Trade," NBER Working Papers 7688, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Marc J. Melitz, 2003. "The Impact of Trade on Intra-Industry Reallocations and Aggregate Industry Productivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(6), pages 1695-1725, November.
  5. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  6. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & López-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "The Regulation of Entry," CEPR Discussion Papers 2953, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Robert E. Hall & Charles I. Jones, 1999. "Why Do Some Countries Produce So Much More Output Per Worker Than Others?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(1), pages 83-116, February.
  8. Fabio Ghironi & Marc J. Melitz, 2004. "International Trade and Macroeconomic Dynamics with Heterogeneous Firms," NBER Working Papers 10540, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
  10. Andreoni, J. & Erard, B. & Feinstein, J., 1996. "Tax Compliance," Working papers 9610r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  11. Amaral, Pedro S. & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "A competitive model of the informal sector," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1541-1553, October.
  12. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  13. Banerjee, A.V., 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," Working papers 97-4, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  14. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
  15. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 1999. "The Economic Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," NBER Working Papers 6993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Loayza, Norman V., 1996. "The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
  17. Yoshiaki Azuma & Herschel I. Grossman, 2002. "A Theory of the Informal Sector," Working Papers 2002-07, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  18. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  19. Fortin, Bernard & Marceau, Nicolas & Savard, Luc, 1997. "Taxation, wage controls and the informal sector," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 293-312, November.
  20. Sarte, Pierre-Daniel G., 2000. "Informality and rent-seeking bureaucracies in a model of long-run growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 173-197, August.
  21. repec:rus:hseeco:122439 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Banerjee, Abhijit V, 1997. "A Theory of Misgovernance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1289-1332, November.
  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. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
  25. 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.
  26. Niepelt, Dirk, 2005. "Timing tax evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(9-10), pages 1611-1637, September.
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