IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Theorizing the Informal Economy

In: Unemployment and the Informal Economy


  • Ligita Gasparėnienė

    (Vilnius University, Law faculty)

  • Rita Remeikienė

    (Vilnius University, Law faculty)

  • Colin C. Williams

    (University of Sheffield)


Historical and economic studies indicate that people in all societies have long adapted their activities to the regulations of their contemporary economic system either not to violate these regulations or to avoid them. Thus, if we treat informal economic activities as the activities that are conducted by evading the regulatory norms established in a regulated economic system, then we can state that the informal economy is the same age as the formal economy because implementation of regulated economic systems in societies worldwide provides an incentive for members of a society to circumvent the regulations, especially if they appear too strict, unjustified, or unfair.

Suggested Citation

  • Ligita Gasparėnienė & Rita Remeikienė & Colin C. Williams, 2022. "Theorizing the Informal Economy," SpringerBriefs in Economics, in: Unemployment and the Informal Economy, chapter 0, pages 7-60, Springer.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:spbchp:978-3-030-96687-4_2
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-96687-4_2

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mariano Bosch & Raymundo M. Campos-Vazquez, 2014. "The Trade-Offs of Welfare Policies in Labor Markets with Informal Jobs: The Case of the "Seguro Popular" Program in Mexico," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 71-99, November.
    2. Adriana Anamaria Davidescu (Alexandru), 2014. "Investigating the Impact of Unemployment Rate on the Romanian Shadow Economy. A Complex Approach Based on ARDL and SVAR Analysis," Journal for Economic Forecasting, Institute for Economic Forecasting, vol. 0(4), pages 109-127, December.
    3. Angel Alanon & M. Gomez-Antonio, 2005. "Estimating the size of the shadow economy in Spain: a structural model with latent variables," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(9), pages 1011-1025.
    4. Rafael La Porta & Andrei Shleifer, 2014. "Informality and Development," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 28(3), pages 109-126, Summer.
    5. Lars P. Feld & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Survey on the Shadow Economy and Undeclared Earnings in OECD Countries," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(2), pages 109-149, May.
    6. Thomas Dohmen & Melanie Khamis & Hartmut Lehmann, 2010. "Risk Attitudes and the Incidence of Informality among Workers: Evidence from a Transition Country," ESCIRRU Working Papers 22, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Leandro Medina & Mr. Friedrich Schneider, 2018. "Shadow Economies Around the World: What Did We Learn Over the Last 20 Years?," IMF Working Papers 2018/017, International Monetary Fund.
    8. du Plessis, Valerie & Beshiri, Roland & Bollman, Ray D. & Clemenson, Heather, 2002. "Definitions of "Rural"," Agriculture and Rural Working Paper Series 28031, Statistics Canada.
    9. Balabanova, Dina & McKee, Martin, 2002. "Understanding informal payments for health care: the example of Bulgaria," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 243-273, December.
    10. Dennis Nchor, 2021. "Shadow economies and tax evasion: The case of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 43(1), pages 21-37, March.
    11. Talis Putnins & Arnis Sauka & Adriana Ana Maria Davidesc, 2019. "Shadow Economy Index for Moldova and Romania," Published Paper Series 2019-1, Finance Discipline Group, UTS Business School, University of Technology, Sydney.
    12. repec:jes:wpaper:y:2013:v:5:p:548-555 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Colombo, Emilio & Menna, Lorenzo & Tirelli, Patrizio, 2019. "Informality and the labor market effects of financial crises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 1-22.
    14. Leandro Medina & Friedrich Schneider, 2017. "Shadow Economies around the World: New Results for 158 Countries over 1991-2015," CESifo Working Paper Series 6430, CESifo.
    15. Kanbur, Ravi, 2009. "Conceptualising Informality: Regulation and Enforcement," IZA Discussion Papers 4186, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    16. Kamila Fialová, 2010. "Labor Institutions and their Impact on Shadow Economies in Europe," Working Papers IES 2010/29, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Dec 2010.
    17. Roberto Dell’Anno & Miguel Gómez-Antonio & Angel Alañon-Pardo, 2007. "The shadow economy in three Mediterranean countries: France, Spain and Greece. A MIMIC approach," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 197-197, July.
    18. Lars P. Feld & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Survey on the Shadow Economy and Undeclared Earnings in OECD Countries," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 11(2), pages 109-149, May.
    19. repec:iza:izawol:journl:y:2015:p:127 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Mr. Andrea Pescatori & Mr. Frederik G Toscani & Frederic Lambert, 2020. "Labor Market Informality and the Business Cycle," IMF Working Papers 2020/256, International Monetary Fund.
    21. Kyrtsou, Catherine & Labys, Walter C., 2006. "Evidence for chaotic dependence between US inflation and commodity prices," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 256-266, March.
    22. Leyva, Gustavo & Urrutia, Carlos, 2020. "Informality, labor regulation, and the business cycle," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    23. Dominik H. Enste, 2018. "The shadow economy in industrial countries," IZA World of Labor, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA), pages 1-11, November.
    24. Cherecheş, Răzvan M. & Ungureanu, Marius I. & Sandu, Petru & Rus, Ioana A., 2013. "Defining informal payments in healthcare: A systematic review," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 105-114.
    25. Lehmann, Hartmut & Pignatti, Norberto, 2018. "Informal employment relationships and the labor market: Is there segmentation in Ukraine?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 838-857.
    26. Norman V. Loayza, 2016. "Informality in the Process of Development and Growth," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(12), pages 1856-1916, December.
    27. Ion Dobre & Adriana AnaMaria Alexandru, 2009. "The Impact of Unemployment Rate on the Dimension of Shadow Economy in Spain: A Structural Equation Approach," European Research Studies Journal, European Research Studies Journal, vol. 0(4), pages 179-197.
    28. Putniņš, Tālis J. & Sauka, Arnis, 2015. "Measuring the shadow economy using company managers," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 471-490.
    29. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2001. "Wages, Unemployment, and the Underground Economy," Working Paper Series 2001:8, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    30. Jane Hsu & Charlene Shiue, 2008. "Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Non-pirated Software," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(4), pages 715-732, September.
    31. Blackburn, Keith & Bose, Niloy & Capasso, Salvatore, 2012. "Tax evasion, the underground economy and financial development," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 243-253.
    32. Melanie Khamis, 2012. "A Note On Informality In The Labour Market," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(7), pages 894-908, October.
    33. Gengzhi Huang & Desheng Xue & Bo Wang, 2020. "Integrating Theories on Informal Economies: An Examination of Causes of Urban Informal Economies in China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 12(7), pages 1-16, March.
    34. Tālis J. Putniņš & Arnis Sauka, 2011. "Size and determinants of shadow economies in the Baltic States," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 11(2), pages 5-25, December.
    35. Dike, Onyemaechi, 2019. "Informal employment and work health risks: Evidence from Cambodia," MPRA Paper 92943, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 24 Mar 2019.
    36. Gaal, Peter & Evetovits, Tamas & McKee, Martin, 2006. "Informal payment for health care: Evidence from Hungary," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 86-102, June.
    37. Awasthi,Rajul & Engelschalk,Michael, 2018. "Taxation and the shadow economy : how the tax system can stimulate and enforce the formalization of business activities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8391, The World Bank.
    38. Barrett, C. B. & Reardon, T. & Webb, P., 2001. "Nonfarm income diversification and household livelihood strategies in rural Africa: concepts, dynamics, and policy implications," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 315-331, August.
    39. Tanya Chavdarova, 2014. "Risky Businesses? Young People in Informal Self-Employment in Sofia," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(6), pages 2060-2077, November.
    40. Schneider,Friedrich & Enste,Dominik H., 2016. "The Shadow Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9781316600894, December.
    41. Altay Mussurov & G Arabsheibani, 2015. "Informal self-employment in Kazakhstan," IZA Journal of Labor & Development, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-19, December.
    42. Manes, Eran & Schneider, Friedrich & Tchetchik, Anat, 2016. "On the Boundaries of the Shadow Economy: An Empirical Investigation," IZA Discussion Papers 10067, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    43. Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Towards a Better Understanding of the Informal Economy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 873, OECD Publishing.
    44. Maloney, William F., 2004. "Informality Revisited," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1159-1178, July.
    45. Felicia C. Abada & Charles O. Manasseh & Ifeoma C. Nwakoby & Ngozi Franca Iroegbu & Johnson I. Okoh & Felix C. Alio & Adedoyin I. Lawal & Onyinye J. Asogwa, 2021. "Relationship Between Unemployment Rate and Shadow Economy in Nigeria: A Tado-Yamamoto Approach," International Journal of Financial Research, International Journal of Financial Research, Sciedu Press, vol. 12(3), pages 271-283, May.
    46. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    47. Ann-Sofie Kolm & Birthe Larsen, 2016. "Informal unemployment and education," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 5(1), pages 1-36, December.
    48. Gorana Krstić & Branko Radulović, 2015. "Shadow Economy in the Business and Entrepreneurial Sectors," Contributions to Economics, in: Gorana Krstić & Friedrich Schneider (ed.), Formalizing the Shadow Economy in Serbia, edition 127, chapter 0, pages 77-99, Springer.
    49. I. Mauleón & J. Sardà, 2017. "Unemployment and the shadow economy," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(37), pages 3729-3740, August.
    50. Nicola Banks & Melanie Lombard & Diana Mitlin, 2020. "Urban Informality as a Site of Critical Analysis," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 56(2), pages 223-238, February.
    51. K. Nagac, 2015. "Tax system and informal economy: a cross-country analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(17), pages 1775-1787, April.
    52. Amaral, Pedro S. & Quintin, Erwan, 2006. "A competitive model of the informal sector," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1541-1553, October.
    53. Loredana Maftei, 2013. "A Brief Analysis Of The Shadow Economy In Europe," CES Working Papers, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 5(4), pages 548-555, December.
    54. Grimm, Michael & Hoeven, Rolph van der & Lay, Jann, 2011. "Unlocking potential : tackling economic, institutional and social constraints of informal entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa : main findings and policy conclusions," Social Protection Discussion Papers and Notes 77925, The World Bank.
    55. Harris, Lloyd C., 2008. "Fraudulent Return Proclivity: An Empirical Analysis," Journal of Retailing, Elsevier, vol. 84(4), pages 461-476.
    56. Roberto Dell'Anno & Offiong Helen Solomon, 2008. "Shadow economy and unemployment rate in USA: is there a structural relationship? An empirical analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(19), pages 2537-2555.
    57. Philip Sawi Kavan, 2013. "Factors impacting on the urban informal sector: seven country studies including PNG," International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 6(3), pages 211-237.
    58. Christopher Bajada & Friedrich Schneider, 2009. "Unemployment and the Shadow Economy in the oecd," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 60(5), pages 1033-1067.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ligita Gasparėnienė & Rita Remeikienė & Colin C. Williams, 2022. "Unemployment and the Informal Economy," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, number 978-3-030-96687-4, March.
    2. Hailin Chen & Friedrich Schneider & Qunli Sun, 2020. "Measuring the size of the shadow economy in 30 provinces of China over 1995–2016: The MIMIC approach," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 427-453, August.
    3. Paraskevi Koufopoulou & Colin C. Williams & Athanassios Vozikis & Kyriakos Souliotis & Antonios Samprakos, 2021. "Estimating Shadow Economy Size in Greece 2000 - 2018: A Flexible MIMIC Approach," SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, SPOUDAI Journal of Economics and Business, University of Piraeus, vol. 71(3-4), pages 23-47, July-Dece.
    4. Sahnoun, Marwa & Abdennadher, Chokri, 2019. "The nexus between unemployment rate and shadow economy: A comparative analysis of developed and developing countries using a simultaneous-equation model," Economics Discussion Papers 2019-30, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    5. Dagmara Nikulin & Ewa Lechman, 2021. "Shadow Economy in Poland: Results of the Survey," SpringerBriefs in Economics, in: Shadow Economy in Poland, chapter 0, pages 49-65, Springer.
    6. Owolabi, Adegboyega O. & Berdiev, Aziz N. & Saunoris, James W., 2022. "Is the shadow economy procyclical or countercyclical over the business cycle? International evidence," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 257-270.
    7. Schneider Friedrich & Buehn Andreas, 2017. "Shadow Economy: Estimation Methods, Problems, Results and Open questions," Open Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-29, March.
    8. 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.
    9. Dennis Nchor, 2021. "Shadow economies and tax evasion: The case of the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary," Society and Economy, Akadémiai Kiadó, Hungary, vol. 43(1), pages 21-37, March.
    10. Florencia Verónica Pedroni & Anahí Briozzo & Gabriela Pesce, 2019. "¿Por qué no declarar todo? Determinantes de la subfacturación empresarial en la Argentina," Asociación Argentina de Economía Política: Working Papers 4186, Asociación Argentina de Economía Política.
    11. Nedra Baklouti & Younes Boujelbene, 2020. "A simultaneous equation model of economic growth and shadow economy: Is there a difference between the developed and developing countries?," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 53(1), pages 151-170, February.
    12. Schneider, Friedrich & Khan, Shabeer & Baharom Abdul Hamid & Khan, Abidullah, 2019. "Does the tax undermine the effect of remittances on shadow economy?," Economics Discussion Papers 2019-67, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW Kiel).
    13. Mutascu Mihai & Hegerty Scott W., 2022. "The role of refugees in the underground economy of the European Union," IZA Journal of Development and Migration, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 13(1), pages 1-19, January.
    14. Lahlou, Kamal & Doghmi, Hicham & Schneider, Friedrich, 2020. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economy in Morocco," Document de travail 2020-3, Bank Al-Maghrib, Département de la Recherche.
    15. Lars P. Feld & Friedrich Schneider, 2011. "Survey on the Shadow Economy and Undeclared Work in OECD Countries," Chapters, in: Friedrich Schneider (ed.), Handbook on the Shadow Economy, chapter 2, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    16. Afonso, Oscar & Neves, Pedro Cunha & Pinto, Tiago, 2020. "The non-observed economy and economic growth: A meta-analysis," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 44(1).
    17. Colin C. Williams & Friedrich Schneider, 2016. "Measuring the Global Shadow Economy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 16551.
    18. Aristidis Bitzenis & Vasileios Vlachos & Friedrich Schneider, 2016. "An Exploration of the Greek Shadow Economy: Can Its Transfer into the Official Economy Provide Economic Relief Amid the Crisis?," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(1), pages 165-196, January.
    19. Nino Kokashvili & Irakli Barbakadze & Ketevani Kapanadze, 2017. "How Participating In The Shadow Economy Affects The Growth Of Latvian Firms," University of Tartu - Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Working Paper Series 101, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, University of Tartu (Estonia).
    20. Ann-Sofie Kolm & Birthe Larsen, 2019. "Underground activities and labour market performance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(1), pages 41-70, February.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    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:spr:spbchp:978-3-030-96687-4_2. 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: . General contact details of provider: .

    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 bibliographic 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Sonal Shukla or Springer Nature Abstracting and Indexing (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    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.