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Financial Development and the Underground Economy


  • Keith Blackburn
  • Niloy Bosey
  • Salvatore Capasso

    () (Centre for Growth and Business Cycles Research, Economic Studies, University of Manchester)


We provide a theoretical and empirical study of the relation between financial development and the size of the underground economy. In our theoretical framework agents allocate investment between a low-return technology which can be operated with internal funds, and a high-return technology which requires external finance. Firms can reduce the cost of funding by disclosing part or all of their assets and pledging them as collateral. The disclosure decision, however, also involves higher tax payments and reduces tax evasion. We show that financial development (a reduction in the cost of external finance) can reduce tax evasion and the size of the underground economy. We test the main implications of the model using Italian microeconomic data that allow us to construct a micro-based index of the underground economy. In line with the model’s predictions, we find that local financial development is associated with a smaller size of the underground economy, controlling for the potential endogeneity of financial development and other determinants of the underground economy.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Keith Blackburn & Niloy Bosey & Salvatore Capasso, 2008. "Financial Development and the Underground Economy," Working Papers 5_2008, D.E.S. (Department of Economic Studies), University of Naples "Parthenope", Italy.
  • Handle: RePEc:prt:wpaper:5_2008

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & McMillan, John & Woodruff, Christopher, 2000. "Why do firms hide? Bribes and unofficial activity after communism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 495-520, June.
    2. Frey, Bruno S. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Tax morale and conditional cooperation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 136-159, March.
    3. repec:hrv:faseco:30747190 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Dabla-Norris, Era & Gradstein, Mark & Inchauste, Gabriela, 2008. "What causes firms to hide output? The determinants of informality," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 1-27, February.
    5. Andrew Ellul & Tullio Jappelli & Marco Pagano & Fausto Panunzi, 2016. "Transparency, Tax Pressure, and Access to Finance," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(1), pages 37-76.
    6. Straub, Stéphane, 2005. "Informal sector: The credit market channel," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 299-321, December.
    7. Jappelli, Tullio & Pagano, Marco & Bianco, Magda, 2005. "Courts and Banks: Effects of Judicial Enforcement on Credit Markets," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(2), pages 223-244, April.
    8. Antunes, Antonio R. & Cavalcanti, Tiago V. de V., 2007. "Start up costs, limited enforcement, and the hidden economy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 203-224, January.
    9. Blackburn, Keith & Bose, Niloy & Capasso, Salvatore, 2012. "Tax evasion, the underground economy and financial development," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 243-253.
    10. repec:hrv:faseco:33078210 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Gatti, Roberta & Honorati, Maddalena, 2007. "Informality among Formal Firms: Firm-level, Cross-country Evidence on Tax Compliance and Access to Credit," CEPR Discussion Papers 6597, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    Cited by:

    1. Catalina Granda Carvajal, 2015. "Informality and macroeconomic volatility: do credit constraints matter?," Journal of Economic Studies, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 42(6), pages 1095-1111, November.
    2. Edoardo Di Porto & Leandro Elia, 2015. "Estimating Labor Demand Function in the Presence of Undeclared Labour: A Look Behind the Curtain," CSEF Working Papers 389, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    3. Giovanni Immordino & Francesco Flaviano Russo, 2014. "Taxing Cash to Fight Collaborative Tax Evasion?," CSEF Working Papers 351, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    4. Mukherjee, Sacchidananda & Rao, R. Kavita, 2015. "Estimation of Unaccounted Income Using Transport as a Universal Input: A Methodological Note," Working Papers 15/146, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
    5. Emanuele Bracco & Luisanna Onnis, 2015. "Immigration, Amnesties and the Shadow Economy," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 418, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    6. Mendoza, Ronald U. & Canare, Tristan A. & Ang, Alvin, 2015. "Doing Business: A Review of Literature and Its Role in APEC 2015," Research Paper Series DP 2015-37, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    7. Guerino Ardizzi & Carmelo Petraglia & Massimiliano Piacenza & Friedrich Schneider & Gilberto Turati, 2013. "Money Laundering as a Financial Sector Crime - A New Approach to Measurement, with an Application to Italy," CESifo Working Paper Series 4127, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Imamoglu, Hatice, 2017. "Estimating the roles of financial sector development and international trade openness in underground economies: Evidence from the European Union," Economics Discussion Papers 2017-50, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    9. Elbahnasawy, Nasr G. & Ellis, Michael A. & Adom, Assandé Désiré, 2016. "Political Instability and the Informal Economy," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 31-42.
    10. Berdiev, Aziz N. & Saunoris, James W., 2016. "Financial development and the shadow economy: A panel VAR analysis," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 197-207.
    11. Salvatore Capasso & Stefano Monferrà & Gabriele Sampagnaro, 2015. "The Shadow Economy and Banks’ Lending Technology," CSEF Working Papers 422, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    12. Ahamed, M. Mostak, 2016. "Does inclusive financial development matter for firms’ tax evasion? Evidence from developing countries," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 15-19.
    13. Yilmaz Bayar & Omer Faruk Ozturk, 2016. "Financial Development and Shadow Economy in European Union Transition Economies," Managing Global Transitions, University of Primorska, Faculty of Management Koper, vol. 14(2 (Summer), pages 157-173.
    14. Ioana M. PETRESCU, 2016. "The Effects of Economic Sanctions on the Informal Economy," Management Dynamics in the Knowledge Economy Journal, College of Management, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, vol. 4(4), pages 623-648, December.
    15. Guriev, Sergei & Speciale, Biagio & Tuccio, Michele, 2016. "How do regulated and unregulated labor markets respond to shocks? Evidence from immigrants during the Great Recession," CEPR Discussion Papers 11403, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Soldatos, Gerasimos T., 2015. "A Bilateral Monopsony Approach to Lending, and the Hidden Economy in LDCs," MPRA Paper 66896, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    17. Mendoza, Ronald U. & Canare, Tristan A. & Ang, Alvin, 2015. "Doing Business: A Review of Literature and Its Role in APEC 2015," Discussion Papers DP 2015-37, Philippine Institute for Development Studies.
    18. repec:eee:eecrev:v:100:y:2017:i:c:p:506-524 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item



    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • H26 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Tax Evasion and Avoidance

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