Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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Entrepreneurship and the Informal Economy: An Empirical Analysis
Vol. Volume 21, Number 2 June/2016

Kameliia Petrova
This paper presents an empirical study investigating the effect of entrepreneurship on the incidence of informal employment based on a cross-country comparison of 23 developing countries from 2001 to 2010. It builds upon economic models exploring the determinants of informal economy by analyzing the role played by institutions and policies and their effect on the informal sector. Among policies examined are payroll and severance taxes, labor and product market regulations, unemployment benefits, firing and hiring costs, enforcement of financial contracts and financial costs. The country-level data is collected from data sources such as the World Bank Entrepreneurship Survey, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the Worldwide Governance Indicators, the World Development Indicators and the Economic Freedom of the World Databases. The empirical analysis is based on a panel data approach. The main result of the paper supports the view that the informal sector is an “unregulated micro-entrepreneurial sector”. The findings suggest that differences in the level of entrepreneurial activities across developing countries are associated with variance in the incidence of informal employment, and that entrepreneurship has a positive effect on the informal sector. The incidence of informal employment is strongly affected by the public perception of government performance, role, accountability and effectiveness, as well as labor market and business regulations.

Keywords: Informal sector, hidden economy, self-employment, entrepreneurship, regulation, public policy