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Explaining participation in the undeclared economy in Central and Eastern Europe: a demand-side approach


  • Colin C. Williams
  • Ioana A. Horodnic


To explain participation in the undeclared economy, the conventional supply-side approach evaluates the reasons people work in this sphere. This article, for the first time in Central and Eastern Europe, explains the undeclared economy using a demand-side approach which evaluates citizens’ motives for purchasing undeclared goods and services. Here, three potential explanations for purchasing undeclared goods and services, grounded in rational economic actor, social actor and institutional imperfections theoretical perspectives, are evaluated. Reporting data from 11,131 face-to-face interviews conducted in 11 Central and Eastern European countries in 2013, the main finding is that all three explanations are used by consumers, demonstrating the need for a synthesis of these approaches. A multinomial regression analysis identifies the specific groups variously using the undeclared economy to obtain a lower price, for social or redistributive rationales, or due to formal institutional imperfections. The implications for theorising and tackling the undeclared economy are then explored.

Suggested Citation

  • Colin C. Williams & Ioana A. Horodnic, 2017. "Explaining participation in the undeclared economy in Central and Eastern Europe: a demand-side approach," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(3), pages 297-312, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:pocoec:v:29:y:2017:i:3:p:297-312
    DOI: 10.1080/14631377.2017.1335453

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Richard White & Colin Williams, 2010. "Re-thinking Monetary Exchange: Some Lessons from England," Review of Social Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 68(3), pages 317-338.
    2. Putniņš, Tālis J. & Sauka, Arnis, 2015. "Measuring the shadow economy using company managers," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 471-490.
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