The World Bank's Informal Surveys collect data on non-registered business activities in different countries. The Informal Surveys were developed in parallel to the World Bank's Enterprise Surveys (ES), which are administered to formal, private, non-agricultural firms around the world.
In some countries unregistered enterprises make up a significant part of the economy. Understanding how informal businesses function and why they prefer to remain non-registered could help implement changes in government - business relationships.
The Informal Surveys are conducted using a uniform sampling methodology in order to minimize measurement error and yield data that are comparable across the world's economies.
This research is a survey of unregistered businesses conducted in Argentina from June 11, 2010, to Aug. 13, 2010. Data from 384 enterprises were analyzed.
Questionnaire topics include general information about a business, infrastructure and services, sales and supplies, crime, sources and access to finance, business-government relationship, assets, bribery, workforce composition, obstacles to get registration, reasons for not registering, and benefits that an establishment could get from registration. The mode of data collection is face-to-face interviews.
The Informal Surveys aim to accomplish the following objectives:
1) To provide information about the state of the private sector for informal businesses in client countries;
2) To generate information about the reasons of said informality;
3) To collect useful data for the research agenda on informality;
4) To provide information on the level of activity in the informal sector of selected urban centers in each country.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
The primary sampling unit of the Informal Surveys is an unregistered establishment. For Argentina, informal firms were defined as those not registered with the Administración Federal de Ingresos Públicos (AFIP).
The whole population, or the universe, covered in the survey is the non-agricultural informal economy.
At the beginning of each survey, a screening procedure is conducted in order to identify eligible interviewees. At this point, a full description of all the activities of the business owner or manager is taken; based on its principal activity, a business is then classified in the manufacturing or services stratum using a list of activities developed from previous iterations of the survey. Certain activities are excluded such as strictly illegal activities (e.g., prostitution or drug trafficking) as well as individual activities that are forms of selling labor like domestic servants or windshield washers.
Producers and sponsors
The Informal Surveys are conducted in selected urban centers, which are intended to coincide with the locations for the implementation of the main Enterprise Surveys. The overall number of interviews is pre-determined.
In Argentina, the urban centers identified were Buenos Aires and Resistencia in the province of Chaco. At the outset, the target sample for Buenos Aires was 240 interviews; the sample target for Chaco was 80 interviews.
Sampling in the Informal Surveys is conducted within clearly delineated sampling zones, which are geographically determined divisions within each urban center. Sampling zones are defined at the beginning of fieldwork, and are delineated according to the concentration and geographical dispersion of informal business activity.
The number of sampling areas, and the geographical area they contain, is determined with the goal that each sector will yield four effective interviews.
In Argentina, each sampling area was designed to contain a physical area, on average, of no less than the equivalent of ten city blocks. These sampling areas may
or may not correspond to the administrative districts of the urban center.
In Buenos Aires, for a total of 240 interviews, 60 sampling areas were initially identified (240/4 = 60 sampling areas). In Chaco, a total of 80 interviews yielded 20
sampling areas (80/4 = 20 sampling areas).
In order to provide information on diverse aspects of the informal economy, the sample is designed to have equal proportions of services and manufacturing (50:50). These sectors are defined by responses provided by each informal business to a question on the business's main activity included in the screener portion of the questionnaire.
As a general rule, services must constitute an ongoing business enterprise and so exclude the sale of manual labor Manufacturing activity in the informal sector includes business activity requiring inputs and/or intermediate goods. Thus, for example, the processing of coffee, sugar, oil, dried fruit, or other processed foods is considered manufacturing, while the simple selling of these goods falls under services. If an informal business conducts a mixture of these activities, the business is considered under the manufacturing stratum.
Each sampling zone was designed with the goal of obtaining two interviews in services and two interviews in manufacturing. In order to ensure a degree of geographical dispersion within each sampling zone, two starting points were identified.
Each starting point was designed to correspond to five city blocks, which were numbered sequentially. The first starting point was identified as Starting
Point A and the second as Starting Point B.
Proceeding from each starting point, interviewers were instructed to begin on block 1, defining the starting block and corner. Each interviewer was instructed to attempt to achieve two interviews from each starting point, ideally one interview in manufacturing and one in services.
Interviewers were instructed to proceed clockwise around block 1 from Starting Point A; if the target interviews were not achieved, interviewers proceeded to block 2, Starting Point A, and so forth until completing a circuit of block 5. After achieving two interviews from Starting Point A, interviewers were instructed to cease work in the blocks assigned to that given Starting Point and repeat the sameprocedure from Starting Point B, beginning with block 1.
Using local knowledge, within each block all houses and shops were checked for unregistered businesses, following the pre-fixed route described above, until the
allotted quota of interviews for each starting point was reached. Often interviewers used referrals by neighbors and locals in order to identify informal businesses. When a referral was obtained, the pre-determined route was followed until reaching the address of the referral. It should be noted that when referrals were obtained, interviewers were instructed to maintain the sampling procedure noted above; i.e., in the case that an interviewer encountered an informal business in the process of following a referral, an attempt was made to interview the former business first.
Each sampling zone, including its two starting points, were marked using Google maps, with the GPS coordinates of the starting points being systematically recorded.
Additionally, when obtaining a complete interview, the exact address of the informal business (or where the interview took place) was registered by the interviewer. Once in the office, this address was searched in Google maps, and its GPS coordinates were registered in a fieldwork report.
If no address was immediately available, using local knowledge, the GPS coordinates were determined using imaging via Google maps. In order to preserve confidentiality, the exact coordinates of businesses are not published.
Due to issues of non-response, in the process of fieldwork, the implementing contractor was unable to obtain the targeted four interviews in each of the originally delineated sectors.
As a result, replacement sectors were delineated, ex post. Additionally, the implementing contractor noted that in various interviews there were notable shortfalls in response rates to certain questions. For these reasons, additional interviews were authorized. These were distributed according to the discretion of the implementing contractor in Argentina, with authorization from the World Bank.
Continuing with the sample target of four interviews per sector, as a result of the replacement procedure, more than the original target of interviews per urban center were realized, 100 in Chaco (target 80) and 284 in Buenos Aires (target 240).
In sum, there were 64 zones (60 original, 4 replacement) in Buenos Aires and 27 zones in Chaco (20 original, 7 replacement).
Complete information regarding the sampling methodology as well as maps of starting points can be found in "Description of Argentina Informal Survey Implementation" and "Mapping of starting points for sampling in Argentina Informal Survey 2010" in "Technical Documents" folder.
The overall survey response rate among contacted, eligible businesses for the Argentina Informal Survey 2010 was estimated at 20%.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Data Collection Notes
The surveys were implemented following a two-stage procedure. In the first stage, a screener questionnaire was applied to determine eligibility of a business or activity; once a business or activity was identified as eligible, willing participants were interviewed. While in theory this procedure allows interviewers to schedule an appointment at a later time, in reality, the vast majority of screener and full interviews were realized in immediate succession.
TNS Gallup Argentina
The current survey instrument is available:
- Informal Questionnaire.
The survey topics include general information about a business, infrastructure and services, sales and supplies, crime, sources and access to finance, business-government relationship, assets, bribery, workforce composition, obstacles to get registration, reasons for not registering, and benefits that an establishment could get from registration.
Data entry and quality controls are implemented by the contractor and data is delivered to the World Bank in batches (typically 10%, 50% and 100%). These data deliveries are checked for logical consistency, out of range values, skip patterns, and duplicate entries. Problems are flagged by the World Bank and corrected by the implementing contractor through data checks, callbacks, and revisiting establishments.
Confidentiality of the survey respondents and the sensitive information they provide is necessary to ensure the greatest degree of survey participation, integrity and confidence in the quality of the data. Surveys are usually carried out in cooperation with business organizations and government agencies promoting job creation and economic growth, but confidentiality is never compromised.
Firm-level data is available to the public free-of-charge. In order to access the data, users must agree to abide by a strict confidentiality agreement available through Enterprise Analysis Unit website by clicking on "External users register here" at https://www.enterprisesurveys.org/Portal
Where necessary please site the source as "Enterprise Analysis Unit - World Bank Group https://www.enterprisesurveys.org"
Disclaimer and copyrights
The user of the data acknowledges that the original collector of the data, the authorized distributor of the data, and the relevant funding agency bear no responsibility for use of the data or for interpretations or inferences based upon such uses.
DDI Document ID
Date of Metadata Production
DDI Document version
Version 02: Some variable labels were corrected compared to v01 released on April 11, 2011.