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Informality and Regulations; What Drives Firm Growth?

  • Era Dabla-Norris
  • Gabriela Inchauste

The paper relies on a rich firm-level data set on transition economies to examine the role of informality as an important channel through which regulatory and other policy constraints affect firm growth. We find that firms reduce their formal operations with a higher tax and regulatory burden, but increase it with better enforcement quality. In terms of firm growth, we find a differential impact of regulatory burden and enforcement quality on formal and informal firms. In particular, we find that growth in formal firms is negatively affected by both tax and financing constraints, while these constraints are insignificant for growth in informal firms. Moreover, formal firm growth improves with better enforcement as measured by fair and impartial courts, while informal firm growth is constrained by organized crime, pointing to their inability to take full advantage of the legal and judicial systems. Finally, when we look at country-wide institutions, we find that higher regulatory burden reduces firm growth. An interactive term between a country-wide measure of the rule of law and a proxy for formality suggests that better enforcement quality dampens the relatively weaker growth in formal firms.

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Paper provided by International Monetary Fund in its series IMF Working Papers with number 07/112.

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Length: 26
Date of creation: 01 May 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:imf:imfwpa:07/112
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  1. Simeon Djankov & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "The Regulation of Entry," Working Paper 19462, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  2. Loayza, Norman V. & Oviedo, Ana Maria & Serven, Luis, 2005. "The impact of regulation on growth and informality - cross-country evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3623, The World Bank.
  3. Simon Johnson & John McMillan & Christopher Woodruff, 2002. "Property Rights and Finance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1335-1356, December.
  4. 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.
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  6. Rajan, Raghuram G & Zingales, Luigi, 1998. "Financial Dependence and Growth," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 559-86, June.
  7. repec:reg:rpubli:271 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 2000. "Why do firms hide? Bribes and unofficial activity after communism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 495-520, June.
  9. Schneider, Friedrich G., 2007. "Shadow economies and corruption all over the world: what do we really know?," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-9, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  10. Besley, Timothy J. & Burgess, Robin, 2002. "Can Labour Regulation Hinder Economic Performance? Evidence from India," CEPR Discussion Papers 3260, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Mihir Desai & Paul Gompers & Josh Lerner, 2003. "Institutions, Capital Constraints and Entrepreneurial Firm Dynamics: Evidence from Europe," NBER Working Papers 10165, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  13. Thorsten Beck & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Vojislav Maksimovic, 2005. "Financial and Legal Constraints to Growth: Does Firm Size Matter?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(1), pages 137-177, 02.
  14. Stephane Straub, 2005. "Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel," ESE Discussion Papers 101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  15. Friedrich Schneider & Robert Klinglmair, 2004. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we know?," Economics working papers 2004-03, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
  16. 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.
  17. Juan Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael Porta & Florencio C. Lopez-De-Silanes, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382, November.
  18. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-29, October.
  19. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram G, 2004. "Business Environment and Firm Entry: Evidence from International Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 4366, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  20. Loayza, Norman V. & Oviedo, Ana Maria & Serven, Luis, 2005. "Regulation and macroeconomic performance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3469, The World Bank.
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