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The smart economics of educated women

Editor's Note: Jennifer Yip is a consultant for the World Bank Group's Doing Business team.

At an age when mothers admonish their children to finish their brussels sprouts, my mother issued warnings about the importance of getting a PhD if I wanted to gain the respect of my future husband. Those warnings were followed by the oft-repeated reminder that I should "marry well, so you don’t have to work if you don’t want to."

An exceedingly simple answer

Oscar Calvo is an economist who works on economic policy for the Latin American and Caribbean region here at the World Bank. He shared with me some interesting research on the determinants of informality in Peru. Oscar and his team conducted a survey of 802 micro and small firms, both informal and formal, and came up with the following chart (below the jump) on the benefits of being registered to pay taxes. (The RUC number is the firm’s tax ID).

Should a one-time entry cost matter?

As I mentioned in my previous post, some critics have argued that too much attention is paid to the costs of starting a business. One way of stating the critique is that a cost that has to be paid only once ought not to have a big effect on a firm’s decisions.

Formal firms with informal workers

In my last post, I claimed that “it is common for formal firms to have many informal workers.” How do I know that?

Joyce Sadka and I have been doing some work using data from a labor court in Cuautitlán, which is located just outside of Mexico City. Each data point represents an individual who claimed to have been fired from a formal-sector firm without cause.

What prevents informal firms from becoming formal?

Mohammad Amin's picture

An earlier post on this blog talked about the benefits to informal or unregistered firms from registering. Using data on informal firms in Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar and Mauritius (Enterprise Surveys), I argued that a majority of the informal firms believe that registration brings real benefits, especially those associated with better access to finance and markets.

What does formal mean anyway?

I can’t stop thinking about Mohammad’s post on the benefits of formalization.

His post lists nine potential benefits to firms from formalization. You can check out the post to see the complete list. I was particularly interested in the potential benefit of “Better access to workers.”

More on the benefits of formalization

Mohammad Amin gave us a post on new results from a survey of informal firms. Good data from informal firms is indeed an exciting innovation.

I want to focus on his results from Côte d'Ivoire. It turns out that 95% of informal firms in Côte d'Ivoire believe that their access to credit would improve if they became formal firms. This result prompts Mohammad to ask “why don’t firms register then?”