The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Paul Levine, Emanuela Lotti, Nicoletta Batini, and Young-Bae Kim
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
This paper reviews the literature on the informal economy, focusing first on empirical findings and then on existing approaches to modeling informality within both partial and general equilibrium environments. We concentrate on labour and credit markets, since these tend to be most affected by informality. The phenomenon is particularly important in emerging and other developing economies, given their high degrees of informal labour and financial services and the implications these have for the effectiveness of macroeconomic policy. We emphasize the need for dynamic general equilibrium (DGE) and ultimately dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models for a full understanding of the costs, benefits and policy implications of informality. The survey shows that the literature on informality is quite patchy, and that there are several unexplored areas left for research.