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Shadow Economies in highly developed OECD countries: What are the driving forces?

  • Andreas Buehn
  • Friedrich Schneider

The main focus of this paper lies on the “driving forces” of the development and size of the shadow economy in 39 highly developed OECD countries. The most influential factors on the shadow economy are tax policies and state regulation, which, if rising, increase the shadow economy, though other, economic factors like unemployment are important, too. Specifically, it is shown that the main driving forces of the size and development of the shadow economy are unemployment, self-employment and the tax burden, which impact the shadow economies in these 30 OECD countries to a different degree. Between 1999 and 2010 unemployment and self-employment have on average the largest relative impact (14.6%), followed by tax morale (14.5%), GDP growth (14.3%), business freedom (14.2%) and indirect taxes (14.1%).

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria in its series Economics working papers with number 2013-17.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jku:econwp:2013_17
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  1. Andreas Buehn & Stefan Eichler, 2009. "Smuggling Illegal versus Legal Goods across the U.S.-Mexico Border: A Structural Equations Model Approach," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 76(2), pages 328-350, October.
  2. Friedrich Schneider & Dominik Enste, 2000. "Shadow Economies Around the World: Size, Causes, and Consequences," IMF Working Papers 00/26, International Monetary Fund.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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  6. 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.
  7. Désirée Teobaldelli, 2011. "Federalism and the shadow economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 269-289, March.
  8. Axel Dreher & Christos Kotsogiannis & Steve McCorriston, 2005. "How do Institutions Affect Corruption and the Shadow Economy?," Public Economics 0502012, EconWPA, revised 24 Feb 2005.
  9. Roberto Dell´Anno, 2007. "The shadow economy in Portugal: An analysis with the MIMIC approach," Journal of Applied Economics, Universidad del CEMA, vol. 0, pages 253-277, November.
  10. Benno Torgler & Friedrich Schneider, 2007. "The Impact of Tax Morale and Institutional Quality on the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 1899, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Kirchler,Erich, 2007. "The Economic Psychology of Tax Behaviour," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521876742.
  12. Egle Tafenau & Helmut Herwartz & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Regional Estimates of the Shadow Economy in Europe," International Economic Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(4), pages 629-636.
  13. 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.
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  15. David E. A. Giles, 1998. "Measuring The Hidden Economy: Implications for Econometric Modelling," Econometrics Working Papers 9809, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  16. Friedrich Schneider & Désirée Teobaldelli, 2012. "Beyond the Veil of Ignorance: The Influence of Direct Democracy on the Shadow Economy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3749, CESifo Group Munich.
  17. Thomas, Jim, 1999. "Quantifying the Black Economy: 'Measurement without Theory' Yet Again?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F381-89, June.
  18. David KUCERA & Leanne RONCOLATO, 2008. "Informal employment: Two contested policy issues," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 147(4), pages 321-348, December.
  19. Schneider Friedrich, 2010. "The Influence of Public Institutions on the Shadow Economy: An Empirical Investigation for OECD Countries," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(3), pages 441-468, December.
  20. Tanzi, Vito, 1999. "Uses and Abuses of Estimates of the Underground Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F338-47, June.
  21. Andreas Buehn & Friedrich Schneider, 2012. "Shadow economies around the world: novel insights, accepted knowledge, and new estimates," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer, vol. 19(1), pages 139-171, February.
  22. 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, 08.
  23. Andreas Buehn & Alexander Karmann & Friedrich Schneider, 2009. "Shadow Economy and Do-it-Yourself Activities: The German Case," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 165(4), pages 701-722, December.
  24. Bhattacharyya, Dilip K, 1999. "On the Economic Rationale of Estimating the Hidden Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(456), pages F348-59, June.
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