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A tale of two species : revisiting the effect of registration reform on informal business owners in Mexico

  • Bruhn, Miriam

Different views have been put forward to explain why most firms in developing countries operate informally. One view argues that informal-business owners are entrepreneurs who do not register their firm because the regulation process is too complex. Another argues that informal-business owners are people trying to make a living while searching for a wage job. This paper contributes to recent literature that argues that both factors are at work. The author uses discriminant analysis to separate informal business owners into two groups: those with personal characteristics similar to wage workers, and those with traits similar to formal-business owners. The paper then examines how the two groups were affected by a business registration reform in Mexico. Informal-business owners from the second group were more likely to register their business after the reform. By contrast, informal-business owners from the first group were less likely to register but more likely to become wage workers after the reform. This is consistent with the finding in Bruhn (2008 and 2011) that the reform led to job creation. It also explains why the earlier papers find that the reform didn’t affect the number of new registrations by all informal business owners.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5971.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5971
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  1. Aterido, Reyes & Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Pagés, Carmen, 2011. "Does Expanding Health Insurance Beyond Formal-Sector Workers Encourage Informality? Measuring the Impact of Mexico's Seguro Popular," IZA Discussion Papers 5996, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Josh Lerner & Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "International Differences in Entrepreneurship," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number lern08-2, December.
  3. McCulloch, Neil & Schulze, Günther G. & Voss, Janina, 2009. "What Determines Firms' Decisions to Formalize? Empirical Evidence from Rural Indonesia," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Frankfurt a.M. 2009 32, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
  4. Stephane Straub, 2005. "Informal Sector: The Credit Market Channel," ESE Discussion Papers 101, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  5. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "The Unofficial Economy and Economic Development," NBER Working Papers 14520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. McKenzie, David & Seynabou Sakho, Yaye, 2010. "Does it pay firms to register for taxes? The impact of formality on firm profitability," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 15-24, January.
  7. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Peter J. Klenow, 2007. "Misallocation and Manufacturing TFP in China and India," NBER Working Papers 13290, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2008. "Who are the microenterprise owners ? Evidence from Sri Lanka on Tokman v. de Soto," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4635, The World Bank.
  9. Kaplan, David S. & Piedra, Eduardo & Seira, Enrique, 2011. "Entry regulation and business start-ups: Evidence from Mexico," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1501-1515.
  10. Bruhn, Miriam, 2008. "License to sell : the effect of business registration reform on entrepreneurial activity in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4538, The World Bank.
  11. repec:oup:qjecon:v:124:y:2009:i:4:p:1403-1448 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
  13. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "The Unofficial Economy in Africa," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes: Government and Institutions, Volume 1 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Bennett, John, 2009. "Informal Firms in Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Stepping Stone or Consolation Prize?," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  15. Simeon Djankov & Yingyi Qian & Gerard Roland & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2006. "Entrepreneurship in Brazil, China, and Russia," Working Papers w0066, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  16. Simeon Djankov & Edward Miguel & Yingyi Qian & Gérard Roland & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2005. "Who are Russia's Entrepreneurs?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 587-597, 04/05.
  17. David Kaplan & Eduardo Piedra & Enrique Seira, 2006. "Are Burdensome Registration Procedures an Important Barrier on Firm Creation? Evidence from Mexico," Discussion Papers 06-013, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  18. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes: An Application to Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 3038, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  19. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William, 2006. "Gross worker flows in the presence of informal labor markets : the Mexican experience 1987-2002," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3883, The World Bank.
  20. Guillermo E. Perry & William F. Maloney & Omar S. Arias & Pablo Fajnzylber & Andrew D. Mason & Jaime Saavedra-Chanduvi, 2007. "Informality : Exit and Exclusion," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 6730.
  21. R. Hirschowitz, 1989. "The Other Path: The Invisible Revolution in the Third World," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 57(4), pages 266-272, December.
  22. Fajnzylber, Pablo & Maloney, William F. & Montes-Rojas, Gabriel V., 2011. "Does formality improve micro-firm performance? Evidence from the Brazilian SIMPLES program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 262-276, March.
  23. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
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