Taxation, public services, and the informal sector in a model of endogenous growth
Large informal sectors are an important characteristic of developing countries. The authors build a dynamic model in which the informal sector exists when overregulation (high tax rates and high cost for entering the formal sector) is coupled with an inefficient and corrupt system of compliance control. They consider a production technology in which public services are essential and subject to congestion. The public services are financed by taxes collected from the formal sector. Informal producers evade taxes and, because of their illegal status, can use only some public services, cannot use capital or insurance markets, and are subject to stochastic penalties. The authors find that the relative size of the informal sector is negatively related to the severity of the penalties and positively related to tax rates and the extent of informal use of public services. They also find that economies with larger informal sectors have lower capital return and growth rates because the contribution of public services to productivity decreases with informality. They argue that self-interested bureaucracies create an economic environment that makes informality attractive or simply unavoidable because they profit from the presence of the informal sector.
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