Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Andrew T. Young

Committee Co-Chair

Roger Congleton

Committee Member

Brian Cushing

Committee Member

Russell Sobel

Committee Member

William Trumbull


This dissertation comprises three essays which investigate the empirical relationships between institutions (formal and informal), entrepreneurial outcomes (productive and unproductive), and shadow economy size at the U.S. state-level. Chapter 1 opens with some discussion of the topics explored here and provides an overview of important results from each of the essays. In Chapter 2, the first of the empirical essays, I focus on U.S. shadow economies, providing estimates of shadow economy size for 50 U.S. states over the period 1997 to 2008 as a foundation for analysis in the subsequent chapter. Chapter 3 focuses on the relationship between entrepreneurship, shadow economy size, and corruption at the U.S. state-level. Specifically, I question the importance of the entrepreneur's choice (for which estimates of shadow economy size serve as a proxy) to participate in the formal or informal economy as a channel through which public official corruption affects observed (formal sector) entrepreneurial outcomes. Chapter 4 is a joint effort with Andrew Young. In this essay we revisit Baumol's (1990) conjectures on the role of institutions in determining whether entrepreneurs will channel their efforts towards wealth-generating activities or toward zero- or negative-sum rent-seeking, using cross-section data on informal, religious institutions. Chapter 5 summarizes the conclusions of the aforementioned chapters and discusses some possibilities for further investigation.