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Towards a Better Understanding of the Informal Economy

Author

Listed:
  • Dan Andrews

    (OECD)

  • Aida Caldera Sánchez

    (OECD)

  • Åsa Johansson

    (OECD)

Abstract

It is important to understand the nature and drivers of informality, as its social and economic consequences are wide-ranging. This paper critically reviews the current state of cross-country research on informality and discusses how existing data sources can be more effectively employed and extended to shed light on the link between public policies and informality. A number of interesting findings emerge. The informal economy is multi-faceted and a wide range of definitions and measures are required to capture its diverse activities. However, most existing – and widely used – cross-country estimates of informality suffer from large measurement problems, which reduce the reliability of existing empirical evidence on the extent and drivers of informality. Accordingly, future research on informality should be closely linked to obtaining better data, particularly at the household and firm levels. Vers une meilleure compréhension de l'économie informelle Il est important de comprendre la nature et les déterminants de l'économie informelle, tant ses conséquences sociales et économiques sont vastes. Ce document examine d’une façon critique l'état actuel de la recherche sur l'économie informelle, et examine la façon d'utiliser plus efficacement les données existantes et d'étendre les bases de données pour mieux établir un lien entre les politiques publiques et l'informalité. Quelques conclusions intéressantes se dégagent de cette étude. L'économie informelle présente de multiples facettes et un large éventail de définitions et de mesures sont nécessaires pour saisir ses diverses formes. Cependant, la plupart des indicateurs disponibles - et largement utilisés - souffrent de problèmes de mesurabilité, qui réduisent la fiabilité des données empiriques existantes et les résultats sur l'ampleur et les déterminants de l'informalité. Ainsi, les futures recherches sur l'informalité devraient recueillir de meilleures données, en particulier sur les ménages et les entreprises.

Suggested Citation

  • Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Towards a Better Understanding of the Informal Economy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 873, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:873-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5kgb1mf88x28-en
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    Cited by:

    1. Colin C. Williams & Ioana A. Horodnic, 2015. "Explaining and tackling the shadow economy in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: a tax morale approach," Baltic Journal of Economics, Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies, vol. 15(2), pages 81-98.
    2. Krasniqi Besnik A. & Williams Colin C., 2017. "Explaining individual- and country-level variations in unregistered employment using a multi-level model: evidence from 35 Eurasian countries," South East European Journal of Economics and Business, Sciendo, vol. 12(2), pages 61-72, December.
    3. Colin C. Williams & Ioana A. Horodnic, 2017. "Evaluating the Illegal Employer Practice of Under-Reporting Employees’ Salaries," British Journal of Industrial Relations, London School of Economics, vol. 55(1), pages 83-111, March.
    4. Thai, Mai Thi Thanh & Turkina, Ekaterina, 2014. "Macro-level determinants of formal entrepreneurship versus informal entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 490-510.
    5. Ligita Gasparėnienė & Rita Remeikienė & Colin C. Williams, 2022. "Unemployment and the Informal Economy," SpringerBriefs in Economics, Springer, number 978-3-030-96687-4, January.
    6. Ligita Gasparėnienė & Rita Remeikienė & Colin C. Williams, 2022. "Theorizing the Informal Economy," SpringerBriefs in Economics, in: Unemployment and the Informal Economy, chapter 0, pages 7-60, Springer.
    7. Shami, Labib, 2019. "Dynamic monetary equilibrium with a Non-Observed Economy and Shapley and Shubik’s price mechanism," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    8. Eunice Maria M. N. Dos Santos & João J. Ferreira, 2017. "Analyzing Informal Entrepreneurship: A Bibliometric Survey," Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship (JDE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 22(04), pages 1-20, December.
    9. Gorana Krstić & Branko Radulović, 2015. "Shadow Economy in the Business and Entrepreneurial Sectors," Contributions to Economics, in: Gorana Krstić & Friedrich Schneider (ed.), Formalizing the Shadow Economy in Serbia, edition 127, chapter 0, pages 77-99, Springer.
    10. Ioana Alexandra Horodnic & Colin C. Williams, 2016. "An evaluation of the shadow economy in Baltic states: a tax morale perspective," International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 28(2/3), pages 339-358.
    11. Mohammed Aït Lahcen, 2017. "Informality and the long run Phillips curve," ECON - Working Papers 248, Department of Economics - University of Zurich, revised Dec 2018.
    12. Colin C Williams & Ioana A Horodnic, 2017. "Evaluating the policy approaches for tackling undeclared work in the European Union," Environment and Planning C, , vol. 35(5), pages 916-936, August.
    13. Fredström, Ashkan & Peltonen, Juhana & Wincent, Joakim, 2021. "A country-level institutional perspective on entrepreneurship productivity: The effects of informal economy and regulation," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 36(5).
    14. Williams Colin C. & Horodnic Ioana A., 2015. "Explaining The Prevalence Of The Informal Economy In The Baltics: An Institutional Asymmetry Perspective," European Spatial Research and Policy, Sciendo, vol. 22(2), pages 127-145, December.
    15. Colin C Williams & Ioana Alexandra Horodnic, 2016. "An institutional theory of the informal economy: some lessons from the United Kingdom," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 43(7), pages 722-738, July.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    droits de propriété; informal economy; measurement issues; mesurabilité; property rights; regulations; régulations; tax evasion; économie informelle; évasion fiscale;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • J53 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - Labor-Management Relations; Industrial Jurisprudence
    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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