Research on Starting a Business

Doing Business considers the following list of papers as relevant for research on regulations affecting the entry of new firms. Some papers—denoted with an asterisk (*)—use Doing Business data for their empirical analysis. If we've missed any important research, please let us know.


  • A helping hand or the long arm of the law? Experimental evidence on what governments can do to formalize firms

    Author(s):Gustavo Henrique de Andrade; Miriam Bruhn and David McKenzi Journal:World Bank Group, Policy Research Working Paper 6435. Abstract: Many governments have spent much of the past decade trying to extend a helping hand to informal businesses by making it easier and cheaper for them to formalize. Much less effort has been devoted to raising the costs of remaining informal, through increasing enforcement of existing regulations. This paper reports on a field experiment conducted in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in order to test which government actions work in getting informal firms to register. Firms were randomized to a control group or one of four treatment groups: the first received information about how to formalize; the second received this information and free registration costs along with the use of an accountant for a year; the third group was assigned to receive an enforcement visit from a municipal inspector; while the fourth group was assigned to have a neighboring firm receive an enforcement visit to see if enforcement has spillovers. The analysis finds zero or negative impacts of information and free cost treatments, and a significant but small increase in formalization from inspections. Estimates of the impact of actually receiving an inspection give a 21 to 27 percentage point increase in the likelihood of formalizing. The results show most informal firms will not formalize unless forced to do so, suggesting formality offers little private benefit to them. But the tax revenue benefits to the government of bringing firms of this size into the formal system more than offset the costs of inspections.

  • Barriers to entry and development

    Author(s):Herrendorf, Berthold; Teixeira, Arilton Journal:International Economic Review, Volume 52, Issue 2, Pages 573-602, May 2011 Abstract:We ask whether barriers to entry are a quantitatively important reason for the income gap between developing countries and the United States. We develop a tractable general equilibrium model that captures the effects of barriers to entry and the other main distortions typically considered in the development literature. We carry our model to the data and ask it to match the main development facts from the Penn World Table. We find that this requires large barriers to entry in developing countries, which account for about half of the income gap with the United States.

  • Business regulations and growth

    Author(s):Divanbeigi, Raian; Ramalho, Rita Journal:World Bank Group, Policy Research Working Paper 7299 Abstract: Over the past decade, there has been increased interest in improving business regulations, in part because of the increased availability of data that can inform and monitor those improvements. This paper analyzes whether these regulatory changes are linked to economic outcomes. With panel data for 10 years across more than 180 countries, the paper establishes the link between business regulations, firm creation, and growth. It is found that an improvement of 10 points in the overall measure of business regulations is linked to an increase of around 0.5 new businesses per 1,000 adults. Moreover, the results show that although small changes in the overall level of business regulations may have a negligible link to growth, moving from the lowest quartile of improvement in business regulations to the highest quartile is associated with a significant increase in annual per capita growth of around 0.8 percentage points. In addition, the results highlight the importance of sound entry and exit regulations and sound credit market regulations and court enforcement for growth.

  • Business start-up regulations and the complementarity between foreign and domestic investment

    Author(s):Jonathan Munemo Journal:Review of World Economics, Volume 150, Issue 4, Pages 745-761, November 2014. Abstract:This paper shows that the complementarity between foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic investment significantly depends on regulations required to start a new domestically owned business in host economies. It finds evidence that FDI crowds out domestic investment in countries with entry regulation cost above a certain level, and many of these countries are in the bottom quartile of GDP per capita. Reforms in business start-up regulations can therefore play a critical role in enhancing the complementarity between foreign and domestic investment and thereby increase entrepreneurship and economic growth in low-income countries. The analysis takes into account other significant factors which affect domestic investment such as the cost of capital, government's economic growth track record, institutional quality, and market size.