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Research on Informality

Doing Business considers the following list of papers as relevant for research on the informal sector. Some papers—denoted with an asterisk (*)—use Doing Business data for their empirical analysis. If we've missed any important research, please let us know.

Author(s): Julian Franks and Gyongyi Loranth

Journal: The Review of Finance

Abstract: This article studies how the allocation of control rights in bankruptcy influences outcomes. Using Hungarian data, we find that the large majority of bankrupt firms in our sample are maintained as going concerns despite the fact that these firms generate large operating losses and low recovery rates for pre-bankruptcy creditors. We trace the bias to the allocation of control rights between secured and unsecured creditors and the compensation scheme of the agent managing the bankruptcy process. Our findings shed light on a very important bankruptcy design question: how particular provisions of the bankruptcy code affect the costs of bankruptcy and the size of the pie available to pre-bankruptcy creditors.

Author(s): Ludek Kolecek

Journal: Journal of Financial Stability, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 40-61, April 2008

Abstract: This paper analyzes the effect of the toughness of bankruptcy law on the number of liquidations in a simple model of borrowing and lending with asymmetric information, where the creditor cannot credibly commit to liquidate the firm if the default occurs. In our setting we consider a bankruptcy law to be a one-dimensional variable that influences creditor's expectation value of collateral. We find that there is an interval of the bankruptcy law, where the number of liquidations decreases in the toughness of the bankruptcy law. We also find that if the liquidation costs are high, softer bankruptcy law is preferred.

Author(s): White, Michelle J

Journal: Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 21, Issue 4, Pages 175-199, Fall 2007

Abstract: In many developing countries, a significant part of economic activity takes place in the informal sector. Earlier work has examined the determinants of the size of the informal sector, focusing separately on factors such as tax and regulation burden, financial market development, and the quality of the legal system. We revisit this issue by using an integrated data set which contains information on all these aspects. Building on a simple analytical framework, we test the channels affecting the degree of informality. We find that the quality of the legal framework is crucially important in determining the size of the informal sector, whereas the significance of taxes, regulations, and financial constraints is reduced in the context of a well functioning legal system, consistent with the presented model. Additionally, firm size is negatively correlated with the propensity to go informal; finance constraints tend to induce informality among smaller firms but not among large firms, whereas legal obstacles induce informality among larger firms.