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Grey Matters: Charting the Development of the Shadow Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Donal Mac Géidigh
  • Friedrich Schneider
  • Matthias Blum

Abstract

The shadow economy has long been an area of research for policymakers. The determinants of underground activity of late have been identified as high tax burdens and increased regulation, but has this relationship always existed? This seminal work examines the shadow economy in Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States over the past 145 (from 1870 to 2015) years using the Currency Demand Approach and finds that the underground economy is stabilising. To our knowledge this is the first attempt to estimate the size and development of the shadow economy over such a long period and due to this we get some new insights. Our results clearly show that the shadow economy in earlier times was considerably higher than in the last 50 years. This paper also analyses whether a plateau has been reached and questions what efforts could be made to further reduce this informal economy.

Suggested Citation

  • Donal Mac Géidigh & Friedrich Schneider & Matthias Blum, 2016. "Grey Matters: Charting the Development of the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6234, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6234
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Eichengreen, Barry, 1996. "Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195101133.
    3. Schneider, Friedrich, 2005. "Shadow economies around the world: what do we really know?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 598-642, September.
    4. Macias, Jose Brambila & Cazzavillan, Guido, 2009. "The dynamics of parallel economies. Measuring the informal sector in Mexico," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(3), pages 189-199, September.
    5. 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.
    6. Klovland, Jan Tore, 1984. " Tax Evasion and the Demand for Currency in Norway and Sweden. Is There a Hidden Relationship?," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 86(4), pages 423-439.
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    9. Giles, David E A, 1999. "Measuring the Hidden Economy: Implications for Econometric Modelling," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 370-380, June.
    10. Schneider, Friedrich, 1986. " Estimating the Size of the Danish Shadow Economy Using the Currency Demand Approach: An Attempt," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 88(4), pages 643-668.
    11. Annette Mummert & Friedrich Schneider, 2002. "The German Shadow Economy: Parted in a United Germany?," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 58(3), pages 286-316, July.
    12. Hildegart Ahumada & Facundo Alvaredo & Alfredo Canavese, 2007. "The Monetary Method And The Size Of The Shadow Economy: A Critical Assessment," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 53(2), pages 363-371, June.
    13. Arne Jon Isachsen & Steiner Strøm, 1985. "The Size And Growth Of The Hidden Economy In Norway," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 31(1), pages 21-38, March.
    14. Klovland, Jan Tore, 1983. "The demand for money in secular perspective : The case of Norway, 1867-1980," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 193-218, July.
    15. Andreas Buehn, 2012. "The Shadow Economy in G erman Regions: An Empirical Assessment," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 13(3), pages 275-290, August.
    16. Friedrich Schneider & Andreas Buehn & Claudio Montenegro, 2010. "New Estimates for the Shadow Economies all over the World," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 443-461.
    17. Bhattacharyya, Dilip K, 1999. "On the Economic Rationale of Estimating the Hidden Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages 348-359, June.
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    19. Friedrich SCHNEIDER, 2016. "Estimating the Size of the Shadow Economy: Methods, Problems and Open Questions," Turkish Economic Review, KSP Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 256-280, June.
    20. Christopher Bajada & Friedrich Schneider, 2005. "The Shadow Economies Of The Asia‐Pacific," Pacific Economic Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(3), pages 379-401, October.
    21. 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.
    22. Frey, Bruno S. & Weck-Hanneman, Hannelore, 1984. "The hidden economy as an 'unobserved' variable," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 26(1-2), pages 33-53.
    23. Mikael Stenkula & Dan Johansson & Gunnar Du Rietz, 2014. "Marginal taxation on labour income in Sweden from 1862 to 2010," Scandinavian Economic History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 62(2), pages 163-187, June.
    24. Price V. Fishback, 2010. "Social Welfare Expenditures in the United States and the Nordic Countries: 1900-2003," NBER Working Papers 15982, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    25. Donald F. Vitaliano, 2015. "Repeal Of Prohibition: A Benefit-Cost Analysis," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(1), pages 44-55, January.
    26. Ahumada, Hildegart & Alvaredo, Facundo & Canavese, Alfredo J., 2006. "The Demand for Currency Approach and the Size of the Shadow Economy: A Critical Assessment," Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics, Working Paper Series qt6zn9p98b, Berkeley Olin Program in Law & Economics.
    27. Guerino Ardizzi & Carmelo Petraglia & Massimiliano Piacenza & Gilberto Turati, 2014. "Measuring the Underground Economy with the Currency Demand Approach: A Reinterpretation of the Methodology, With an Application to Italy," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(4), pages 747-772, December.
    28. Schneider, Friedrich, 1994. "Can the Shadow Economy Be Reduced through Major Tax Reforms? An Empirical Investigation for Austria," Public Finance = Finances publiques, , vol. 49(Supplemen), pages 137-152.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rajeev K. Goel & James W. Saunoris & Friedrich Schneider, 2019. "Growth In The Shadows: Effect Of The Shadow Economy On U.S. Economic Growth Over More Than A Century," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 50-67, January.
    2. Goel, Rajeev K. & Saunoris, James W. & Schneider, Friedrich, 2019. "Drivers of the underground economy for over a century: A long term look for the United States," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 71(C), pages 95-106.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    shadow economy; underground activity; historical tax rates;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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