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Grey Matters: Charting the Development of the Shadow Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Donal Mac Géidigh
  • em. 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 & em. Friedrich Schneider & Matthias Blum, 2016. "Grey Matters: Charting the Development of the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 6234, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6234
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6234.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David Giles & Lindsay Tedds & Gugsa Werkneh, 2002. "The Canadian underground and measured economies: Granger causality results," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(18), pages 2347-2352.
    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. repec:mes:jeciss:v:50:y:2016:i:1:p:165-196 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. Moritz Schularick & Alan M. Taylor, 2012. "Credit Booms Gone Bust: Monetary Policy, Leverage Cycles, and Financial Crises, 1870-2008," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1029-1061, April.
    7. Kenneth Rogoff, 2015. "Costs and Benefits to Phasing out Paper Currency," NBER Macroeconomics Annual, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 445-456.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
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    12. 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.
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    14. 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.
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    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.
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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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    shadow economy; underground activity; historical tax rates;

    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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