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A Note on Measuring the Unofficial Economy in the Former Soviet Republics

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  • Michael Alexeev
  • William Pyle

Abstract

This note argues that the most commonly used estimates of the size of the unofficial economies in the former Soviet republics are flawed. Most important, they are based on calculations that disregard the variation in unofficial economic activity across space in the pre-transition Soviet Union. In addition, these estimates appear to understate the size of the unofficial economies in these countries. We propose alternative estimates and find that they are more strongly related to the institutional factors commonly used to explain the size of the unofficial sector. Our estimates also show that the size of a country's pre-transition unofficial economy is an important predictor of its size during the transition. This suggests that the size of the unofficial economy is to a large extent a historical phenomenon only partly determined by contemporary institutional factors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan in its series William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series with number 436.

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Length: pages
Date of creation: 01 Jul 2001
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wdi:papers:2001-436

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  1. Friedman, Eric & Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 2000. "Dodging the grabbing hand: the determinants of unofficial activity in 69 countries," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 459-493, June.
  2. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
  3. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-92, May.
  4. Rosser, J. Jr. & Rosser, Marina V. & Ahmed, Ehsan, 2000. "Income Inequality and the Informal Economy in Transition Economies," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 156-171, March.
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