IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/jcecon/v36y2008i2p287-306.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Measuring underground (unobserved, non-observed, unrecorded) economies in transition countries: Can we trust GDP?

Author

Listed:
  • Feige, Edgar L.
  • Urban, Ivica

Abstract

This paper compiles alternative estimates of underground economies in twenty five transition countries during the transition decade and finds a disturbing lack of convergence between them, calling into question the reliability of GDP figures (which in varying degrees now include non-transparent imputations for the "non-observed economy") as well as the macro model estimates of the unrecorded economy. A corollary of this finding is that substantive results from many studies examining the consequences of the radical transition from planned to market economies must be viewed with considerable skepticism. Underground (unobserved, non-observed, unrecorded) economic activities play a major role in transition economies. Evaluations of the success and failure of the transition experience should be based on estimates of total economic activity (TEA), namely, recorded plus unrecorded economic activity. We examine the conceptual and empirical relationships between new National Income and Product Accounts (NIPA) methods for obtaining "exhaustive" measures of total economic activity and the two most popular macro-model approaches (electric consumption and currency ratio models) for estimating the size and growth of the unrecorded sector. Our updated empirical results detailing the size and trajectory of unrecorded activities obtained from different estimation methods reveal a disturbing lack of convergence. Until these important differences are resolved, investigations of the relationship between economic reforms and economic outcomes during the transition decade must be viewed with considerable caution. Given the shortcomings of conventional macro model estimates of the underground economy and the lack of transparency and consistency of NOE estimates, it is high time that the profession acknowledges how little we really know about underground economies and their causes and consequences. Journal of Comparative Economics 36 (2) (2008) 287-306.

Suggested Citation

  • Feige, Edgar L. & Urban, Ivica, 2008. "Measuring underground (unobserved, non-observed, unrecorded) economies in transition countries: Can we trust GDP?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 287-306, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:36:y:2008:i:2:p:287-306
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147-5967(08)00015-2
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1998. "Regulatory Discretion and the Unofficial Economy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 387-392, May.
    2. World Bank, 2002. "Transition, The First Ten Years : Analysis and Lessons for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 14042.
    3. Simon Johnson & Daniel Kaufman & Andrei Shleifer, 1997. "The Unofficial Economy in Transition," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(2), pages 159-240.
    4. Nauro F. Campos & Abrizio Coricelli, 2002. "Growth in Transition: What We Know, What We Don't, and What We Should," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(3), pages 793-836, September.
    5. Edgar L. Feige, 1986. "A Re-Examination of the "Underground Economy" in the United States: A Comment on Tanzi," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 33(4), pages 768-781, December.
    6. Edgar L. Feige & Ivica Urban, 2003. "Estimating the Size and Growth of Unrecorded Economic Activity in Transition Countries: A Re-evaluation of Electric Consumption Method Estimates and their Implications," Macroeconomics 0311010, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Michael Alexeev & William Pyle, 2001. "A Note on Measuring the Unofficial Economy in the Former Soviet Republics," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 436, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    8. Helmut Stix, 2001. "Survey Results about Foreign Currency Holdings in Five Central and Eastern European Countries," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 2(3), pages 41-48, February.
    9. Feige,E.L., 2003. "The dynamics of currency substitution, asset substitution and de facto dollarization and euroization in transition countries," Working papers 3, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
    10. Mária Lackó, 2000. "Hidden Economy - an Unknown Quantity? Comparative Analysis of Hidden Economies in Transition Countries, 1989-95," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(1), pages 117-149, March.
    11. Ratna Sahay & Jeronimo Zettelmeyer & Eduardo Borensztein & Andrew Berg, 1999. "The Evolution of Output in Transition Economies; Explaining the Differences," IMF Working Papers 99/73, International Monetary Fund.
    12. Brian M. Doyle, 2000. ""Here, dollars, dollars ..."estimating currency demand and worldwide currency substitution," International Finance Discussion Papers 657, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    13. Feige,Edgar L. (ed.), 1989. "The Underground Economies," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521262309.
    14. Trevor Breusch, 2006. "Size, Causes and Consequences of the Underground Economy: An International Perspective Edited by Christopher Bajada and Friedrich Schneider," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 82(259), pages 492-494, December.
    15. Oleh Havrylyshyn, 2001. "Recovery and Growth in Transition: A Decade of Evidence," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 48(4), pages 1-4.
    16. Feige, Edgar L., 1990. "Defining and estimating underground and informal economies: The new institutional economics approach," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 18(7), pages 989-1002, July.
    17. Richard D. Porter & Ruth Judson, 1996. "The location of U.S. currency: how much is abroad?," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Oct, pages 883-903.
    18. Seitz, Franz, 1995. "The circulation of Deutsche Mark abroad," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 1995,01e, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    19. 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.
    20. Feige, Edgar L, 1994. "The Underground Economy and the Currency Enigma," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 119-136.
    21. Gerxhani, Klarita, 2004. "Tax evasion in transition: Outcome of an institutional clash? Testing Feige's conjecture in Albania," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 729-745, August.
    22. repec:hrv:faseco:30728045 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Manik L. Shrestha & Adriaan M. Bloem, 2000. "Comprehensive Measures of GDP and the Unrecorded Economy," IMF Working Papers 00/204, International Monetary Fund.
    24. Michael Alexeev & William Pyle, 2003. "A note on measuring the unofficial economy in the former Soviet Republics -super-1," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 11(1), pages 153-175, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Feige, Edgar L., 2015. "Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the “Shadow Economy”?," MPRA Paper 68466, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Diego Ravenda & Josep Argilés-Bosch & Maika Valencia-Silva, 2015. "Labor Tax Avoidance and Its Determinants: The Case of Mafia Firms in Italy," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 41-62, November.
    3. Feige, Edgar L. & Cebula, Richard, 2011. "America’s unreported economy: measuring the size, growth and determinants of income tax evasion in the U.S," MPRA Paper 34781, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Nikolay Nenovsky, 2010. "Monetary Regimes In Post-Communist Countries Some Long-Term Reflections," Analele Stiintifice ale Universitatii "Alexandru Ioan Cuza" din Iasi - Stiinte Economice, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, vol. 57, pages 217-234, november.
    5. Bogdan Mróz, 2012. "The Shadow Economy and Systemic Transformation: The Case of Poland," Chapters,in: Tax Evasion and the Shadow Economy, chapter 6 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Friedrich Schneider, 2016. "Comment on Feige's Paper "Reflections on the Meaning and Measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the 'Shadow Economy'?"," CESifo Working Paper Series 5818, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Jože Kocjancic & Stefan Bojnec, 2011. "Analisys of the Shadow Economy in the Wood Industry," MIC 2011: Managing Sustainability? Proceedings of the 12th International Conference, Portorož, 23–26 November 2011 [Selected Papers], University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper.
    8. Luisanna Onnis & Patrizio Tirelli, 2010. "Challenging the popular wisdom. New estimates of the unobserved economy," Working Papers 184, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Apr 2010.
    9. repec:spr:empeco:v:52:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s00181-016-1109-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Feige, Edgar L., 2016. "Professor Schneider's Shadow Economy:What do we really know? A Rejoinder," MPRA Paper 71903, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Colombo, Emilio & Onnis, Luisanna & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2016. "Shadow economies at times of banking crises: Empirics and theory," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 180-190.
    12. Milen V. Velev, 2014. "A Research on the Relationship between the Real Aggregate Output and the Unemployment Rate in Bulgaria," Economic Studies journal, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences - Economic Research Institute, issue 3, pages 58-91.
    13. Putniņš, Tālis J. & Sauka, Arnis, 2015. "Measuring the shadow economy using company managers," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 471-490.
    14. Serguey Braguinsky & Sergey Mityakov & Andrey Liscovich, 2014. "Direct Estimation of Hidden Earnings: Evidence from Russian Administrative Data," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 281-319.
    15. Colin C. Williams & Jan Windebank, 2011. "Regional Variations in the Nature of the Shadow Economy: Evidence from a Survey of 27 European Union Member States," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Shadow Economy, chapter 5 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Pablo Duarte, 2017. "The relationship between GDP and the size of the informal economy: empirical evidence for Spain," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 52(4), pages 1409-1421, June.
    17. Jesús Clemente & Gemma Larramona, 2012. "Can a legalization programme for immigrants generate conflict among natives?," Chapters,in: Migration Impact Assessment, chapter 11, pages 365-386 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    18. Sadia Banchirigah & Gavin Hilson, 2010. "De-agrarianization, re-agrarianization and local economic development: Re-orientating livelihoods in African artisanal mining communities," Policy Sciences, Springer;Society of Policy Sciences, vol. 43(2), pages 157-180, June.
    19. Byung-Yeon Kim, 2011. "The Unofficial Economy in Russia," KIER Working Papers 797, Kyoto University, Institute of Economic Research.
    20. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada & Gërxhani, Klarita, 2016. "Tax evasion and well-being: A study of the social and institutional context in Central and Eastern Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 149-159.
    21. Pääkkönen, Jenni, 2010. "Economic freedom as driver of growth in transition," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 469-479, December.
    22. Arkhipov, Roman & Katyshev, Pavel, 2016. "Electric power generation and GDP in Russia: Cointegration analysis," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 44, pages 38-49.
    23. Robina Ather Ahmed & Mark Rider, 2008. "Pakistan’s Tax Gap: Estimates By Tax Calculation and Methodology," International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series, at AYSPS, GSU paper0811, International Center for Public Policy, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
    24. Stanisław Cichocki, 2009. "Shadow Economy and Its Relations with Tax System and State Budget in Poland," Ekonomia journal, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw, vol. 24.
    25. da Rocha, Bruno T., 2015. "Let the markets begin: The interplay between free prices and privatisation in early transition," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 350-370.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • P24 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - National Income, Product, and Expenditure; Money; Inflation
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • E01 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Measurement and Data on National Income and Product Accounts and Wealth; Environmental Accounts

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jcecon:v:36:y:2008:i:2:p:287-306. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622864 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.