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Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the “Shadow Economy”?

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  • Feige, Edgar L.

Abstract

This paper reviews the meaning and measurement of unobserved economies germane to tax evasion and macroeconomic information systems. These include the unreported, non-observed, underground, illegal, informal and unrecorded economies. It reviews the progress and shortcomings of national and international agency efforts to measure these unobserved economies, noting what they have in common, what distinguishes one from another and their interconnections. It then examines the meaning of Professor Schneider’s Shadow Economy (SSE), and the veracity of his claim to have accurately estimated its size and trend worldwide by employing a MIMIC model methodology. It concludes that SSE estimates suffer from conceptual flaws, apparent manipulation of results and insufficient documentation for replication, questioning their place in the academic, policy and popular literature.

Suggested Citation

  • Feige, Edgar L., 2015. "Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the “Shadow Economy”?," MPRA Paper 68466, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:68466
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Tax evasion; shadow economy; non-observed; underground; illegal; informal; unrecorded; MIMIC; cash; National Income and Product Accounts; Friedrich Schneider.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C51 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Model Construction and Estimation
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • E26 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Informal Economy; Underground Economy
    • E41 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Demand for Money
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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