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In the Shadow of the Labour Market


  • Ogndal, Tone

    () (Dept. of Economics, University of Oslo)


Why do not people evade more taxes when their gain from evasion is higher than the expected penalties? Why does only a small minority evade when a large majority is willing to? These tax evasion puzzles are explained in a labour market framework where employees may combine reported work in firms with self-employed shadow work. On the margin, time spent on self-employed work reduces labour productivity in reported work. This creates an equilibrium where small, low-productive firms offer jobs with low wage rates but time for self-employed shadow work, while larger, more efficient firms offer jobs with higher reported wage rates but no time for shadow work. Improving the tax morale may not reduce evasion but only sort the honest people into jobs with no time for shadow work. Shadow work leads to an inefficient allocation of employees since it has the effect of a subsidy to low productive firms. Both lower taxes and minimum wages reduce evasion and improve labour allocation but harms low productive firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Ogndal, Tone, 2012. "In the Shadow of the Labour Market," Memorandum 05/2012, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:osloec:2012_005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Villeval, Marie-Claire, 2007. "Tax evasion and social interactions," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2089-2112, December.
    2. Aureo de Paula & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2006. "The Informal Sector," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001030, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Tonin, Mirco, 2011. "Minimum wage and tax evasion: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(11), pages 1635-1651.
    4. Cummings, Ronald G. & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McKee, Michael & Torgler, Benno, 2009. "Tax morale affects tax compliance: Evidence from surveys and an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 447-457, June.
    5. Alm, James & Torgler, Benno, 2006. "Culture differences and tax morale in the United States and in Europe," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 224-246, April.
    6. Dhami, Sanjit & al-Nowaihi, Ali, 2007. "Why do people pay taxes? Prospect theory versus expected utility theory," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 171-192, September.
    7. Torgler, Benno, 2006. "The importance of faith: Tax morale and religiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 81-109, September.
    8. Katherine Cuff & Nicolas Marceau & Steeve Mongrain & Joanne Roberts, 2009. "Optimal Policies and the Informal Sector," Department of Economics Working Papers 2009-14, McMaster University.
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    More about this item


    Shadow work; Tax evasion; Labour market;

    JEL classification:

    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • J29 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Other
    • K34 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - Tax Law

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