Studies on entrepreneurship and formalization in Brazil

Zucco Júnior, César
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This PhD thesis aspires to contribute to the literature on entrepreneurship and economic development by engaging in the discussion of how to foster formalization of microentrepreneurs in developing countries in the short and long-run and microentpreneurs’ drivers for the acceptance of external learning activities. How can we increase formalization of microentrepreneurs? (Paper 1) I address the first question in the paper “Nudging into Budging” in which I conduct a Randomized Field Experiment in one of the major Favelas in Rio de Janeiro. While missing information about the existence of the MEI program and it’s features might be a plausible reason for low take-up, I hypothesize that information alone is not enough to move a large number of microentrepreneurs to take-up due to attention biases. To test this hypothesis, the intervention makes use of additional nudges to remind people in cellphone messages about the content of the information session. My results show that neither an information session nor text messages alone can increase take-up, but that the combination of both increases formalization by seven percent. The results suggest that combining information with behavioral nudges in order to induce the take-up of a public policy program can be a cost-efficient approach. How can we increase microentrepreneurs tax and social security payments? (Paper 2) The paper “Take the wind out or hoist the sails? Heterogeneous treatment effects of a behavioral intervention on small entrepreneurs” addresses my second research question. I hypothesize that public policy intervention can be fruitful and cost-efficient in increasing payments if they account for individual pre-performance trends. For this purpose, I study the payment of microentrepreneurs contributions in Brazil before and after a nationwide intervention in which bills were sent in a booklet for one calendar year to all formalized microentrepreneurs’ households. My results show that the policy intervention works well for microentrepreneurs with irregular payment histories in the first half year after formalizing, but that the intervention has a negative effect on those microentrepreneurs with flawless payment history in this period. In the light of increasing public policy initiative that try to “nudge” people into desired behavior, the paper contributes to the literature by emphasizing the need to account for heterogeneity in behavioral interventions. What explains the take-up of business support programs by microentrepreneurs? (Paper 3) I conclude this PhD thesis with the paper “Distress calls for help: The effect of a business crisis on the take-up of business support services by microentrepreneurs”, in which I hypothesize that microentrepreneurs may be more inclined to take-up training in moments of distress. I study an individual-level longitudinal dataset of monthly tax payments of microentrepreneurs who procure business support services and those who do not. My results show that microentrepreneurs are particularly prone to the take-up of business support services if they undergo a critical business situation represented by a decline in tax payment and in credit scores.

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