Buying and selling a product or service involves a number of costs, including time spent searching for the best prices, negotiating for good discounts, researching product quality and writing contracts where applicable. Broadly, these are called the transaction costs of economic exchange, and part of the reason firms exist is to keep transaction costs at a minimum.
In a series of earlier posts, I discussed a number of findings about informal (unregistered) firms in 6 African countries, including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Madagascar and Mauritius. These findings were based on Informality Surveys collected by the Enterprise Analysis Unit to better understand the functioning of the informal sector—a large sector for which we have virtually no systematic data.
One can reasonably expect that frequent and unpredictable changes in economic policy might adversely affect investment by the private sector and the overall growth of the economy. For all practical purposes, uncertainty about future economic policies is a step towards economic anarchy. But precisely what causes firms in some countries to have higher uncertainty about future economic policies than others? Does the underlying political structure matter? What elements of the political structure, if any, matter for the level of policy uncertainty as perceived by private agents?
Survey data suggest it might not be that easy for manufacturing multinationals to find information on suitable industrial investment sites in many countries around the world.
2. Bringing mobile phones to mobile (food cart) microentrepreneurs -- but will it make the food any tastier?
In a previous post, I highlighted the importance of focusing on the informal sector in developing countries. Most obviously, the informal sector in many developing countries is large.
Back in December, I asked whether the World Bank ought to consider offering its staff phones that can run apps that util
Anecdotal evidence suggests that working from home makes it easier to balance work and family life. Women may be particularly likely to work from home since they are often viewed as the primary caregivers in the family in most developing countries. However, there is some concern in the literature that family responsibility may limit women’s ability to run a business, leading to fewer hours of operation and lower efficiency for home-based businesses run by women.