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Wages, Unemployment, and the Underground Economy


  • Kolm, A.S.
  • Larsen, B.


While examining the macroeconomic effects of increased government control of the informal sector, this paper develops a two-sector general equilibrium model featuring matching frictions and worker-firm wage bargaining. Different goods are produced in the formal sector and the informal sector, and workers search for jobs in both sectors. We analyse the impact of higher punishment rates and a higher audit rate on labor market performance, and we find that a higher punishment rate (i) reduces the size of the informal sector and increases the size of the formal sector, (ii) decreases real producer wages in both sectors, and (iii) reduces the unemployment rate. The effect of a higher audit rate is less clear. We find that a higher audit rate (i) reduces the size of the informal sector relative to the size of the formal sector, and (ii) has an ambiguous impact on unemployment and real wages.

Suggested Citation

  • Kolm, A.S. & Larsen, B., 2001. "Wages, Unemployment, and the Underground Economy," Papers 2001:08, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  • Handle: RePEc:fth:uppaal:2001:08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. James Albrecht & Susan Vroman, 2002. "A Matching Model with Endogenous Skill Requirements," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(1), pages 283-305, February.
    2. Cremer, Helmuth & Gahvari, Firouz, 1993. "Tax evasion and optimal commodity taxation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 261-275, February.
    3. Ann-Sofie Kolm & Birthe Larsen, 2002. "Social Norm, the Informal Sector, and Unemployment," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 59(3), pages 407-407, August.
    4. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
    5. Namkee Ahn & Sara La De Rica, 1997. "The underground economy in Spain: an alternative to unemployment?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(6), pages 733-743.
    6. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2001. "Moral Costs, The Informal Sector And Unemployment," Working Papers 01-2001, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
    7. Wen-Ya Chang & Ching-Chong Lai, 1996. "The Implication of Efficiency Wages On Tax Evasion and Tax Collections," Public Finance Review, , vol. 24(2), pages 163-172, April.
    8. Mortensen, Dale T. & Pissarides, Christopher A., 1999. "New developments in models of search in the labor market," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 39, pages 2567-2627 Elsevier.
    9. Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, "undated". "Shadow Activity and Unemployment in a Depressed Labor Market," Working Papers 177, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    10. 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.
    11. Dominik H. Enste & Friedrich Schneider, 2000. "Shadow Economies: Size, Causes, and Consequences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(1), pages 77-114, March.
    12. Fugazza, Marco & Jacques, Jean-Francois, 2004. "Labor market institutions, taxation and the underground economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1-2), pages 395-418, January.
    13. Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1974. "Income tax evasion: A theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 201-202, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Engström, Per & Holmlund, Bertil & Kolm, Ann-Sofie, 2001. "Optimal Taxation in Search Equilibrium with Home Production," Working Paper Series 2001:19, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    2. Strand, Jon, 2005. "Tax distortions, household production, and black-market work," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 851-871, December.
    3. Kolm, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2003. "Does Tax Evation Affect Unemployment and Educational Choice?," Working Paper Series 2003:22, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    4. Gaetano LISI, 2011. "Optimal taxation and monitoring in an economy with matching frictions and underground activities," Eastern Journal of European Studies, Centre for European Studies, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University, vol. 2, pages 5-11, June.
    5. Gaetano Lisi & Maurizio Pugno, 2010. "Entrepreneurship and the Hidden Economy: An Extended Matching Model," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 587-605.
    6. Kolml, Ann-Sofie & Larsen, Birthe, 2010. "The Black Economy and Education," Research Papers in Economics 2010:3, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
    7. Edoardo Di Porto & Leandro Elia & Cristina Tealdi, 2013. "The "emersion" effect: an ex post and ex ante social program evaluation on labor tax evasion in Italy," Working Papers 2/2013, IMT Institute for Advanced Studies Lucca, revised Jun 2013.
    8. Tito Boeri & Pietro Garibaldi, "undated". "Shadow Activity and Unemployment in a Depressed Labor Market," Working Papers 177, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    9. Gaetano Lisi, 2010. "The Strange Case of Dr. “Unemployed” and Mr “Hidden” in Italy," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 30(4), pages 2802-2816.
    10. Lisi, G., 2011. "Entrepreneurship, On-the-job Search and Informal Jobs," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 9, pages 33-46.
    11. Maxim Bouev, 2005. "State Regulations, Job Search and Wage Bargaining: A Study in the Economics of the Informal Sector," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series wp764, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    12. Joanna Tyrowicz & Stanisław Cichocki, 2011. "Employed unemployed? On shadow employment in transition," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 259-281, May.
    13. Gaetano Lisi & Maurizio Pugno, 2015. "A matching model of endogenous growth and underground firms," International Journal of Economic Theory, The International Society for Economic Theory, vol. 11(4), pages 347-369, December.
    14. Ann-Sofie Kolm & Søren Bo Nielsen, 2008. "Under-reporting of Income and Labor Market Performance," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(2), pages 195-217, April.
    15. Gaetano Lisi & Maurizio Pugno, 2010. "The Underground Economy in a Matching Model of Endogenous Growth," Working Papers 2010-07, Universita' di Cassino, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche.
    16. Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2009. "Interaction between Underground Employment and Unions in Selected Italian Industries," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 60(5), pages 1155-1180.
    17. Lisi, Gaetano, 2010. "Introduzione allo studio dei modelli di "matching" del mercato del lavoro
      [Introduction to the study of matching models of unemployment]
      ," MPRA Paper 22735, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Lisi, Gaetano, 2011. "Matching Models of Equilibrium Unemployment: An Overview," MPRA Paper 30191, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Joanna Tyrowicz & Stanisław Cichocki, 2010. "Employed Unemployed? On Shadow Employment During Transition," Working Papers 2010-05, Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw.

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • H20 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - General
    • J60 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - General


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