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Taxes, Inequality and the Size of the Informal Sector

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  • Dessy, Sylvain
  • Pallage, Stéphane

Abstract

In this note we develop a simple heterogeneous-agent model with incomplete markets to explain the prevalence of a large, low-productivity, informal sector in developing countries. In our models, taxes levied on formal sector agents are used to finance the provision of a productive public infrastructure, which creates a productivity premium from formalization. Our model offers endogenous differentiation of rich and poor countries. Complete formalization is an equilibrium only in countries with the appropriate initial conditions. We discuss existence of this equilibrium and highlight the ambiguous effect of taxes.

Suggested Citation

  • Dessy, Sylvain & Pallage, Stéphane, 2001. "Taxes, Inequality and the Size of the Informal Sector," Cahiers de recherche 0112, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  • Handle: RePEc:lvl:laeccr:0112
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dessy, Sylvain E. & Pallage, Stephane, 2001. "Child labor and coordination failures," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 469-476, August.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-427, June.
    5. Murphy, Kevin M & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert W, 1989. "Industrialization and the Big Push," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(5), pages 1003-1026, October.
    6. Saint-Paul, Gilles & Verdier, Thierry, 1993. "Education, democracy and growth," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 399-407, December.
    7. Jane E. Ihrig & Karine S. Moe, 2000. "The dynamics of informal employment," International Finance Discussion Papers 664, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Katz, Michael L & Shapiro, Carl, 1985. "Network Externalities, Competition, and Compatibility," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(3), pages 424-440, June.
    9. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
    10. Parente, Stephen L & Prescott, Edward C, 1994. "Barriers to Technology Adoption and Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(2), pages 298-321, April.
    11. Paul Krugman, 1991. "History versus Expectations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 651-667.
    12. Matsuyama, Kiminori, 1996. "Why Are There Rich and Poor Countries? Symmetry-Breaking in the World Economy," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 419-439, December.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Informal sector; Technology adoption; Infrastructure; Inequality; Taxation; Development;

    JEL classification:

    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • H54 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Infrastructures

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