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Using administrative data to evaluate municipal reforms : an evaluation of the impact of Minas Facil Expresso

  • Bruhn, Miriam
  • McKenzie, David

Efforts to make it easier for firms to register formally are the most common form of business regulatory reform over the past decade. While there is evidence that large reforms have resulted in some increases in registration rates, recent experimental evidence suggests very few informal firms choose to register when given information about how to do so. This raises the question of whether it is productive for governments to continue to extend simplification efforts to all firms, especially those in more remote areas where many of the benefits of registering may be reduced. This study uses administrative data to evaluate the impact of Minas Facil Expresso, a program in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, which attempted to expand a business start-up simplification program to more remote municipalities. Using difference-in-differences with 56 months of registration data for 822 municipalities, the analysis finds introducing these units actually led to a reduction in registration rates, and no change in tax revenues. The paper uses this evaluation to illustrate the design choices and issues involved in using administrative data to evaluate reforms, with the goal of also providing a template that can be used for evaluating similar reforms elsewhere.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6368.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6368
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
  4. Ashenfelter, Orley & Card, David, 1985. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 67(4), pages 648-60, November.
  5. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2013. "The Demand for, and Consequences of, Formalization among Informal Firms in Sri Lanka," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 122-50, April.
  6. Lee Branstetter & Francisco Lima & Lowell J. Taylor & Ana Venâncio, 2014. "Do Entry Regulations Deter Entrepreneurship and Job Creation? Evidence from Recent Reforms in Portugal," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(577), pages 805-832, 06.
  7. Klapper, Leora & Laeven, Luc & Rajan, Raghuram, 2006. "Entry regulation as a barrier to entrepreneurship," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 591-629, December.
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