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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., 2016. "Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the "Shadow Economy"," MPRA Paper 69271, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Feb 2016.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:69271
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Leandro Medina & em. Friedrich Schneider, 2017. "Shadow Economies around the World: New Results for 158 Countries over 1991-2015," CESifo Working Paper Series 6430, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. em. Friedrich Schneider, 2016. "Comment on Feige's Paper "Reflections on the Meaning and Measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the 'Shadow Economy'?"," CESifo Working Paper Series 5818, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Gebhard Kirchgässner, 2017. "On Estimating the Size of the Shadow Economy," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 18(1), pages 99-111, February.
    4. James Alm, 2019. "What Motivates Tax Compliance?," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 33(2), pages 353-388, April.
    5. repec:pal:compes:v:60:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1057_s41294-017-0042-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Jobst, Clemens & Stix, Helmut, 2017. "Doomed to Disappear? The Surprising Return of Cash Across Time and Across Countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 12327, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Schneider, Friedrich, 2017. "Restricting or Abolishing Cash: An Effective Instrument for Fighting the Shadow Economy, Crime and Terrorism?," International Cash Conference 2017 – War on Cash: Is there a Future for Cash? 162914, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    8. Ann-Sofie Kolm & Birthe Larsen, 2019. "Underground activities and labour market performance," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(1), pages 41-70, February.
    9. repec:kap:itaxpf:v:26:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10797-018-9504-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Piotr Dybka & Michał Kowalczuk & Bartosz Olesiński & Andrzej Torój & Marek Rozkrut, 2019. "Currency demand and MIMIC models: towards a structured hybrid method of measuring the shadow economy," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 26(1), pages 4-40, February.
    11. Cabral, Ana Cinta G. & Gemmell, Norman, 2018. "Estimating Self-Employment Income-Gaps from Register and Survey Data: Evidence for New Zealand," Working Paper Series 7625, Victoria University of Wellington, Chair in Public Finance.
    12. em. Friedrich Schneider, 2017. "Implausible Large Differences in the Sizes of Underground Economies in Highly Developed European Countries? A Comparison of Different Estimation Methods," CESifo Working Paper Series 6522, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    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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