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Informality among formal firms : firm-level, cross-country evidence on tax compliance and access to credit


  • Gatti, Roberta
  • Honorati, Maddalena


The authors use firm-level, cross-county data from Investment Climate surveys in 49 developing countries to investigate an important channel through which informality can affect productivity: access to credit and external finance. Informality is measured as self-reported lack of tax compliance in a sample of registered firms that also answered questions on a large set of other characteristics. The authors find that more tax compliance is significantly associated with more access to credit both in OLS and in country fixed effects estimates. In particular, the link between credit and formality is stronger in high-formality countries. This suggests that firms'balance sheets are relatively more informative for financial institutions in environments where signal extraction is a less noisy process. The authors'results are robust to the inclusion of a wide array of correlates and to two-stage estimation.

Suggested Citation

  • Gatti, Roberta & Honorati, Maddalena, 2008. "Informality among formal firms : firm-level, cross-country evidence on tax compliance and access to credit," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4476, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4476

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    Cited by:

    1. de la Torre, Augusto & Martínez Pería, María Soledad & Schmukler, Sergio L., 2010. "Bank involvement with SMEs: Beyond relationship lending," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 34(9), pages 2280-2293, September.
    2. Catalina Granda Carvajal, 2015. "Informality and macroeconomic volatility: do credit constraints matter?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 1095-1111, November.
    3. Rita K. Almeida, 2010. "Openness and Technological Innovation in East Asia: Have They Increased the Demand for Skills?," Asia-Pacific Development Journal, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), vol. 17(1), pages 63-95, June.
    4. Ceyhun Elgin & Ferda Erturk, 2016. "Is Informality a Barrier to Convergence?," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(4), pages 2556-2568.
    5. Ronald Davies & Lourenço Paz, 2011. "Tariffs versus VAT in the presence of heterogeneous firms and an informal sector," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(5), pages 533-554, October.
    6. Luis Catão & Carmen Pagés & María Fernanda Rosales, 2009. "Financial Dependence, Formal Credit and Informal Jobs: New Evidence from Brazilian Household Data," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1100, Inter-American Development Bank.
    7. Capasso, Salvatore & Jappelli, Tullio, 2013. "Financial development and the underground economy," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 167-178.
    8. Mónica Cueto & Erick Gómez, 2016. "Firm migration to informality and trade openness in developing countries," Economía Coyuntural,Revista de temas de perspectivas y coyuntura, Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales 'José Ortiz Mercado' (IIES-JOM), Facultad de Ciencias Económicas, Administrativas y Financieras, Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno, vol. 1(4), pages 1-31.
    9. Laszlo Goerke, 2012. "The Optimal Structure of Commodity Taxation in a Monopoly with Tax Avoidance or Evasion," Public Finance Review, , vol. 40(4), pages 519-536, July.
    10. Keith Blackburn & Niloy Bosey & Salvatore Capasso, 2008. "Financial Development and the Underground Economy," Working Papers 5_2008, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
    11. Fujin Zhou & Remco Oostendorp, 2014. "Measuring True Sales and Underreporting with Matched Firm-Level Survey and Tax Office Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(3), pages 563-576, July.
    12. Ana Maria Oviedo & Mark R. Thomas & Kamer Karakurum-Ozdemir, 2009. "Economic Informality : Causes, Costs, and Policies - A Literature Survey," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 5917.
    13. Ceyhun Elgin & Oguz Oztunali, 2013. "Institutions, Informal Economy and Economic Development," Working Papers 2013/03, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    14. Junko Koeda & Era Dabla-Norris, 2008. "Informality and Bank Credit; Evidence from Firm-Level Data," IMF Working Papers 08/94, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Gheorghe ZAMAN & Zizi GOSCHIN, 2016. "A New Multidimensional Ranking of Shadow Economy for EU Countries," Romanian Journal of Economics, Institute of National Economy, vol. 43(2(52)), pages 14-33, december.
    16. Germana Giombini & Désirée Teobaldelli, 2012. "The effects of tax evasion and the inefficiency of the legal system on firms’ financial constraints: are they complements or substitutes?," Working Papers 1207, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Department of Economics, Society & Politics - Scientific Committee - L. Stefanini & G. Travaglini, revised 2012.
    17. Beegle,Kathleen G. & Benjamin,Nancy Claire & Recanatini,Francesca & Santini,Massimiliano, 2014. "Informal economy and the World Bank," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6888, The World Bank.
    18. Catalina Granda & Franz Hamann, 2015. "Informality, Saving and Wealth Inequality," Borradores de Economia 873, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    19. Coolidge, Jacqueline & Ilic, Domagoj & Kisunko, Gregory, 2009. "Small businesses in south Africa : who outsources tax compliance work and why ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4873, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Access to Finance; Banks&Banking Reform; Debt Markets; Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress;

    JEL classification:

    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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