A Competitive Model of the Informal Sector


In developing nations, formal workers tend to be more experienced, more educated, and earn more than informal workers. These facts are often interpreted as evidence that low-skill workers face barriers to entry into the formal sector. Yet, there is little empirical evidence that such barriers are important. This paper describes a model where, in equilibrium, the characteristics of formal and informal workers differ systematically, even though labor markets are perfectly competitive. The informal sector emphasizes low-skill work, as in the data, because informal managers have access to less outside financing, and choose to substitute low-skill labor for physical capital.

Journal of Monetary Economics