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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 of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5384
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Panayiota Lyssiotou & Panos Pashardes & Thanasis Stengos, 2004. "Estimates of the black economy based on consumer demand approaches," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 622-640, July.
    2. Stock, James H & Wright, Jonathan H & Yogo, Motohiro, 2002. "A Survey of Weak Instruments and Weak Identification in Generalized Method of Moments," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(4), pages 518-529, October.
    3. Lewbel, Arthur, 1990. "Full Rank Demand Systems," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 31(2), pages 289-300, May.
    4. Peter S. Spiro, 1996. "Monetary Estimates of the Underground Economy: A Critical Evaluation," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(s1), pages 171-175, April.
    5. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000. "Shadow Economies Around the World; Size, Causes, and Consequences," IMF Working Papers 00/26, International Monetary Fund.
    6. 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.
    7. Pissarides, Christopher A. & Weber, Guglielmo, 1989. "An expenditure-based estimate of Britain's black economy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-32, June.
    8. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans-Georg Petersen & Ulrich Thiessen, 2010. "Editors' Introduction: Shadow Economy in High Income Countries - Much Ado about Nothing?," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 413-419.
    2. Odd E Nygård & Joel Slemrod & Thor O Thoresen, 2019. "Distributional Implications of Joint Tax Evasion," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(620), pages 1894-1923.
    3. Claudio Quintano & Paolo Mazzocchi, 2018. "Behind the GDP: some remarks on the shadow economy in Mediterranean countries," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 147-173, February.
    4. Odd E Nygård & Joel Slemrod & Thor O Thoresen, 2019. "Distributional Implications of Joint Tax Evasion," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 129(620), pages 1894-1923.
    5. Quintano, Claudio & Mazzocchi, Paolo, 2013. "The shadow economy beyond European public governance," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 37(4), pages 650-670.
    6. Lee A. Swanson & Vincent Bruni-Bossio, 2019. "A Righteous Undocumented Economy," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 160(1), pages 225-237, November.
    7. 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.

    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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