What is it about?

This paper advances a new explanation for cross-country variations in the participation of small businesses in the informal economy. Drawing upon institutional theory, it proposes that the greater the asymmetry between the codified laws and regulations of formal institutions (state morality) and the unwritten socially shared rules of informal institutions (civic morality), the greater is the propensity of small businesses to participate in the informal economy. To analyse this, the extent to which small businesses evade payroll taxes by paying employees an undeclared (envelope) wage in addition to their official declared salary is analysed.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that small businesses display a greater propensity to engage in this informal wage practice in countries where there is a higher degree of asymmetry between the codified laws and regulations of formal institutions (state morality) and the unwritten socially shared rules of informal institutions (civic morality). A multi-level logistic regression analysis reveals these to be countries which have lower qualities of governance, lower levels of taxation and intervention in the labour market and less effective social transfer systems.

Perspectives

This is the first known analysis of cross-country variations in the participation of small businesses in the informal economy.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Cross-country variations in the participation of small businesses in the informal economy, Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, February 2016, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/jsbed-02-2015-0021.
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