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Informality trends and cycles

Author

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  • Loayza, Norman V.
  • Rigolini, Jamele

Abstract

This paper studies the trends and cycles of informal employment. It first presents a theoretical model where the size of informal employment is determined by the relative costs and benefits of informality and the distribution of workers'skills. In the long run, informal employment varies with the trends in these variables, and in the short run it reacts to accommodate transient shocks and to close the gap that separates it from its trend level. The paper then uses an error-correction framework to examine empirically informality's long- and short-run relationships. For this purpose, it uses country-level data at annual frequency for a sample of industrial and developing countries, with the share of self-employment in the labor force as the proxy for informal employment. The paper finds that, in the long run, informality is larger in countries that have lower GDP per capita and impose more costs to formal firms in the form of more rigid business regulations, less valuable police and judicial services, and weaker monitoring of informality. In the short run, informal employment is found to be counter-cyclical for the majority of countries, with the degree of counter-cyclicality being lower in countries with larger informal employment and better police and judicial services. Moreover, informal employment follows a stable, trend-reverting process. These results are robust to changes in the sample and to the influence of outliers, even when only developing countries are considered in the analysis.

Suggested Citation

  • Loayza, Norman V. & Rigolini, Jamele, 2006. "Informality trends and cycles," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4078, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4078
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. N Fiess & M Fugazza & WF Maloney, 2006. "Informal Labor Markets and Macroeconomic Fluctuations," Working Papers 2006_17, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    2. Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2002. "The Regulation of Entry," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 1-37.
    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.
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    6. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
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    10. Eric Friedman & Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufmann & Pablo Zoido-Lobaton, 1999. "Dodging the Grabbing Hand: The Determinants of Unofficial Activity in 69," Departmental Working Papers 199921, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    11. Dessy, Sylvain & Pallage, Stephane, 2003. "Taxes, inequality and the size of the informal sector," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 225-233, February.
    12. Loayza, Norman V., 1996. "The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 129-162, December.
    13. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
    14. 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.
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    16. repec:hrv:faseco:30728045 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Keywords

    Labor Markets; Economic Theory&Research; Work&Working Conditions; Labor Standards; Inequality;

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