La lógica de la economía informal

CAMBRIDGE – Un fantasma ronda los países en vías de desarrollo: el fantasma de la «economía informal». Para algunos, el sector informal incluye a todas las empresas no registradas ante las autoridades. Para otros, se refiere a las que escapan al pago de impuestos. La Organización Internacional del Trabajo la define como el conjunto de empresas suficientemente pequeñas como para quedar fuera del código laboral.

Sin importar su definición, lo que ha preocupado a muchos economistas y captado la atención de los responsables de las políticas es que la cola de la distribución del tamaño de las empresas en los países en vías de desarrollo es larga. En relación con los países desarrollados, una cantidad inusualmente grande de empresas pequeñas e improductivas coexiste con una pequeña cantidad de empresas grandes y productivas.

Según el razonamiento económico habitual, esto es ineficiente. Si las empresas pequeñas e improductivas cerrasen sus puertas y las de mayor tamaño y productividad contrataran a sus trabajadores, aumentaría tanto el producto total como el bienestar. Esto debiera ocurrir automáticamente gracias a la mano invisible de la competencia, porque las empresas más productivas debieran ser capaces de producir mejores productos a menores precios y de atraer a los trabajadores con salarios más elevados.

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