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Evaluation of the Underground Economy in Quebec: A Microeconomic Approach

Author

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  • Fortin, Bernard

    () (Université Laval)

  • Lacroix, Guy

    () (Université Laval)

  • Pinard, Dominique

    () (Statistics Canada)

Abstract

The main purpose of this paper is to estimate the size and the growth of Quebec’s underground economy, and the corresponding loss of taxes for the government. Our approach is based on a method developed by Pissarides and Weber (1989) and extended by Lyssiotou et al. (2004). The basic hypothesis is that individuals can under-report their earnings from self-employment but not from paid work, from which taxes are directly deducted. We estimate a consumer demand system in which the marginal propensity to consume is allowed to vary with the two types of earnings. We next estimate the amount of self-employment earnings that are under-reported. From this estimate, we calculate the relative size of the underground economy in Quebec. We use data from Statistics Canada's Survey of Household Spending. According to our results, Quebec's underground economy amounted to 4.6% of GDP in 1997 and increased slightly to 5.7% in 2002. For the government, this represents approximately $ 3.3 billion in forgone taxes for the year 2002. This estimate is very close to those reported by Gervais (1994) and Fortin and Lacroix (2009) using very different estimation methods and data.

Suggested Citation

  • Fortin, Bernard & Lacroix, Guy & Pinard, Dominique, 2010. "Evaluation of the Underground Economy in Quebec: A Microeconomic Approach," IZA Discussion Papers 5384, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5384
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James Banks & Richard Blundell & Arthur Lewbel, 1997. "Quadratic Engel Curves And Consumer Demand," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 79(4), pages 527-539, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Odd Erik Nygård & Joel Slemrod & Thor Olav Thoresen, 2016. "Distributional Implications of Joint Tax Evasion," CESifo Working Paper Series 5915, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Quintano, Claudio & Mazzocchi, Paolo, 2013. "The shadow economy beyond European public governance," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 650-670.
    3. Tufan Ekici & Mustafa Besim, 2016. "A Measure of the Shadow Economy in a Small Economy: Evidence from Household-Level Expenditure Patterns," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 62(1), pages 145-160, March.
    4. repec:kap:ejlwec:v:45:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10657-014-9434-3 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    tax evasion; generalized method of moments; household behavior; demand system; underground economy; income from self-employment;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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