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Evaluating the Extent and Nature of ‘Envelope Wages’ in the European Union: A Geographical Analysis


  • Williams Colin

    (School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 9DT, United Kingdom)


To evaluate the spatialities of the illegal wage practice where employers pay their declared employees both an official declared wage and an undeclared ‘envelope’ wage so as to avoid tax liabilities, a 2007 survey conducted in 27 European Union (EU) member states is reported. The finding is that 5% of employees received envelope wages which amount on average to some two-fifths of their wage packet. Revealing how, although heavily concentrated in a small group of East-Central European nations, this wage practice is nonetheless ubiquitous, the paper concludes by discussing how this practice might be tackled.

Suggested Citation

  • Williams Colin, 2009. "Evaluating the Extent and Nature of ‘Envelope Wages’ in the European Union: A Geographical Analysis," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 16(1), pages 115-129, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:vrs:eusprp:v:16:y:2009:i:1:p:115-129:n:7

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Colin C. Williams & John Round, 2007. "Beyond Negative Depictions of Informal Employment: Some Lessons from Moscow," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 44(12), pages 2321-2338, November.
    2. Mihails Hazans, 2005. "Latvia: Working Too Hard?," Labor and Demography 0506008, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Monder Ram & Trevor Jones & Tahir Abbas & Balihar Sanghera, 2002. "Ethnic Minority Enterprise in its Urban Context: South Asian Restuarants in Birmingham," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(1), pages 24-40, March.
    4. Kirchler,Erich, 2007. "The Economic Psychology of Tax Behaviour," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521876742.
    5. Charles Woolfson, 2007. "Pushing the envelope: the `informalization' of labour in post-communist new EU member states," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 21(3), pages 551-564, September.
    6. John Round & Colin C. Williams & Peter Rodgers, 2008. "Corruption in the post-Soviet workplace: the experiences of recent graduates in contemporary Ukraine," Work, Employment & Society, British Sociological Association, vol. 22(1), pages 149-166, March.
    7. Rainer Neef, 2002. "Aspects of the Informal Economy in a Transforming Country: The Case of Romania," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 26(2), pages 299-322, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anna Zasova, 2011. "Labour market institutions: an obstacle or support to Latvian labour market recovery?," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 11(1), pages 5-24, July.
    2. Colin C Williams & Junhong Yang, 2017. "Tackling falsely-declared salaries in Bulgaria: evidence from a 2015 survey," Economic Alternatives, University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria, issue 3, pages 333-351, September.
    3. Dotti Nicola Francesco & Van Heur Bas & Williams Colin C., 2015. "Mapping the Shadow Economy: Spatial Variations in the use of High Denomination Bank Notes in Brussels," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 22(1), pages 5-21, June.
    4. Williams Colin C., 2014. "Explaining Cross-National Variations in the Prevalence and Character of Undeclared Employment in the European Union," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 21(2), pages 115-131, December.
    5. Williams Colin C. & Bezeredi Slavko, 2018. "Explaining and Tackling Under-Declared Employment in FYR Macedonia: The Employers Perspective," South East European Journal of Economics and Business, Sciendo, vol. 13(2), pages 19-31, December.
    6. Colin C. Williams, 2014. "Confronting the Shadow Economy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15370.
    7. Williams Colin C. & Horodnic Ioana A., 2015. "Explaining The Prevalence Of The Informal Economy In The Baltics: An Institutional Asymmetry Perspective," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 22(2), pages 127-145, December.
    8. Williams Colin & Nadin Sara & Windebank Jan, 2012. "Evaluating the Prevalence and Nature of Self-Employment in the Informal Economy: Evidence From a 27-Nation European Survey," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 19(1), pages 129-142, July.


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