Understanding Productivity Levels, Dispersion and Growth in the Leather Shoe Industry: Effects of Size and Informality


In this case study performed on the industrial sub-sector of manufacture of leather shoes in Bolivia, we use the Hsieh and Klenow model (2008) to determine the differences between productivity of larger and formal companies and productivity of smaller and informal companies. Our results reveal that there are not many differences in terms of productivity among these types of companies. We think that informality is indeed the most important factor that contributes to this phenomenon. Apparently, the decrease in costs associated with informality compensates to some extent the economies of scale of formal companies with bigger dimensions and better technology. A notable fact in the shoe manufacturing industry is that it had experienced an atomization process in the last years. This trend is the consequence of a progressive creation of many small informal companies instead of the consolidation of this industry in medium and large formal companies. In a way, informality has contributed to this process. First, because it allows the survival of less productive companies that if they were not informal, they would have to bear costs that would not allow them to continue in business. Second, because informality creates strong incentives for employees to start their own business. On the other hand, many costs associated with formality discourage legally operating companies to employ more people, raise capital and growth.

Working Paper N° 08/2009

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