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Informality as a Stepping Stone: Entrepreneurial Entry in a Developing Economy


  • Bennett, John

    () (Royal Holloway, University of London)

  • Estrin, Saul

    () (London School of Economics)


We model decisions with respect to formality or informality for entrepreneurs in a new industry for a developing economy. We show that informality allows a leader to explore, without significant sunk costs, the potential profitability of the industry; that is, informality may be a stepping stone, enabling an entrepreneur to experiment cheaply in an uncertain environment. There are circumstances under which, without this option, the industry would not become established. We analyse the roles of parameters such as a minimum wage rate and we show that the existence of finance constraints can actually encourage entry in this context.

Suggested Citation

  • Bennett, John & Estrin, Saul, 2007. "Informality as a Stepping Stone: Entrepreneurial Entry in a Developing Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 2950, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2950

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Ricardo Hausmann & Jason Hwang & Dani Rodrik, 2007. "What you export matters," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-25, March.
    3. Arne Bigsten & Peter Kimuyu & Karl Lundvall, 2004. "What to Do with the Informal Sector?," Development Policy Review, Overseas Development Institute, vol. 22(6), pages 701-715, November.
    4. Fields,Gary S., 2005. "A guide to multisector labor market models," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 32547, The World Bank.
    5. Hausmann, Ricardo & Rodrik, Dani, 2003. "Economic development as self-discovery," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 603-633, December.
    6. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
    7. Straub, Stéphane, 2005. "Informal sector: The credit market channel," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 299-321, December.
    8. Fields,Gary S., 2005. "A guide to multisector labor market models," Policy Research Working Paper Series 32547, The World Bank.
    9. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
    10. Chandra, Vandana & Khan, M Ali, 1993. "Foreign Investment in the Presence of an Informal Sector," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 60(237), pages 79-103, February.
    11. Loayza, Norman V., 1994. "Labor regulations and the informal economy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1335, The World Bank.
    12. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Prodyumna Goutam & Italo A. Gutierrez & Krishna B. Kumar & Shanthi Nataraj, 2017. "Does Informal Employment Respond to Growth Opportunities? Trade-Based Evidence from Bangladesh," Working Papers WR-1198, RAND Corporation.
    2. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(2 (Fall)), pages 275-363.
    3. Günther, Isabel & Launov, Andrey, 2012. "Informal employment in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 88-98.
    4. Tilman Brück & Fernanda Llussá & José Tavares, 2010. "Perceptions, Expectations, and Entrepreneurship: The Role of Extreme Events," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1093, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. John Bennett, 2008. "Formality, Informality, and Social Welfare," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 08-06, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
    6. repec:wsi:jdexxx:v:15:y:2010:i:04:n:s1084946710001683 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Joanna Tyrowicz & Stanisław Cichocki, 2011. "Employed unemployed? On shadow employment in transition," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 259-281, May.
    8. Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Klapper, Leora F. & Panos, Georgios A., 2009. "Entrepreneurship in post-conflict transition : the role of informality and access to finance," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4935, The World Bank.
    9. Joanna Tyrowicz & Stanisław Cichocki, 2010. "Employed Unemployed? On Shadow Employment During Transition," Working Papers 2010-05, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.
    10. Prodyumna Goutam & Italo A. Gutierrez & Krishna B. Kumar & Shanthi Nataraj, 2017. "Does Informal Employment Respond to Growth Opportunities? Trade-Based Evidence from Bangladesh," Working Papers 1198, RAND Corporation.

    More about this item


    developing economy; entry; informal sector;

    JEL classification:

    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General

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