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Optimal Policies and the Informal Sector

  • Katherine Cuff
  • Nicolas Marceau
  • Steeve Mongrain
  • Joanne Roberts

This paper characterizes optimal policies in the presence of tax evasion and undocumented workers. Equilibrium can be characterized as segmented or non-segmented, depending on whether domestic workers work exclusively in the formal sector (segmented) or also in the informal sector (non-segmented). Surprisingly, in equilibrium, wages are always equalized between domestic and undocumented workers, even if they do not work in the same sectors of the economy. This is driven by the interaction of firm level decisions with optimal government policy. We also find that enforcement may not always be decreasing in its cost, and that governments will optimally enforce segmentation if enforcement costs are not too high.

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File URL: http://socserv.mcmaster.ca/econ/rsrch/papers/archive/2009-14.pdf
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Paper provided by McMaster University in its series Department of Economics Working Papers with number 2009-14.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mcm:deptwp:2009-14
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  1. Freeman, Scott & Grogger, Jeffrey & Sonstelie, Jon, 1996. "The Spatial Concentration of Crime," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 216-231, September.
  2. Aureo de Paula & Jose A Sheinkman, 2007. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001663, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Epstein, Gil S. & Heizler (Cohen), Odelia, 2007. "Illegal Migration, Enforcement and Minimum Wage," IZA Discussion Papers 2830, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. 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.
  5. Kaplow, Louis, 1990. "Optimal taxation with costly enforcement and evasion," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 221-236, November.
  6. Djajic, Slobodan, 1997. "Illegal Immigration and Resource Allocation," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 38(1), pages 97-117, February.
  7. A. Mitchell Polinsky & Steven Shavell, 2005. "The Theory of Public Enforcement of Law," Discussion Papers 05-004, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  8. Borjas, George J., 1999. "The economic analysis of immigration," Handbook of Labor Economics, in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 28, pages 1697-1760 Elsevier.
  9. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  10. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters, in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. 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.
  12. Fugazza, Marco & Jacques, Jean-Francois, 2004. "Labor market institutions, taxation and the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 395-418, January.
  13. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
  14. Reinganum, Jennifer F. & Wilde, Louis L., 1985. "Income tax compliance in a principal-agent framework," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 1-18, February.
  15. 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.
  16. Bond, Eric W. & Chen, Tain-Jy, 1987. "The welfare effects of illegal immigration," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3-4), pages 315-328, November.
  17. Ethier, Wilfred J, 1986. "Illegal Immigration: The Host-Country Problem," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 56-71, March.
  18. Patricia Cortes, 2008. "The Effect of Low-Skilled Immigration on U.S. Prices: Evidence from CPI Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 381-422, 06.
  19. George J. Borjas & Jeffrey Grogger & Gordon H. Hanson, 2008. "Imperfect Substitution between Immigrants and Natives: A Reappraisal," NBER Working Papers 13887, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 2000. "Tax evasion, fiscal competition and economic integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(9), pages 1633-1657, October.
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