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Corruption, public finances, and the unofficial economy

Author

Listed:
  • Johnson, Simon
  • Kaufmann, Daniel
  • Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo

Abstract

The authors found that, in post-communist economies, the unofficial economy's share of GDP is determined by the extent of control rights held by bureaucrats and politicians. Exploring in detail the role of taxation and bribery, and using data from an expanded data set of 49 Latin American, OECD, and transition economies, the authors find that the unofficial economy accounts for a larger share of GDP where there is great bureaucratic inefficiency and discretion, and where firms experience a greater tax and regulatory burden, as well as more bribery and corruption. The unofficial economy is also much larger where there is less state revenue and where the rule of law is weak. They also find that countries with a larger unofficial economy tend to grow more slowly. Thus, this framework suggests an additional channel whereby corruption and ineffective regulatory and tax administration can result in lower growth: the unofficial economy. Wealthy OECD economies and some Eastern European economies find themselves the"good equilibrium"of relatively low regulatory and tax burden (not necessarily low statutory tax rates), sizable revenue mobilization, good rule of law and control of corruption, and a small unofficial economy. Several countries in Latin America and the former Soviet Union exhibit characteristics consistent with a"bad equilibrium": the discretionary application of heavy regulatory and tax burdens, the weakrule of law, heavy bribery, and an active unofficial economy. In this large country sample (unlike in the earlier framework for transition economies only), the authors find that it is the ineffective and discretionary application of regulatory and tax regimes in many countries -- not higher tax rates by itself -- that increase the size of the unofficial economy. The tax burden reported by firms appears to be more a function of regulatory and bureaucratic inefficiency and discretion rather than of tax rates alone.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnson, Simon & Kaufmann, Daniel & Zoido-Lobaton, Pablo, 1999. "Corruption, public finances, and the unofficial economy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2169, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2169
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bernard Gauthier & Jonathan Goyette, 2016. "Fiscal policy and corruption," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 46(1), pages 57-79, January.
    2. Stephen S. Everhart & Mariusz A. Sumlinski, 2001. "Trends in Private Investment in Developing Countries : Statistics for 1970-2000 and the Impact on Private Investment of Corruption and the Quality of Public Investment," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13989, April.
    3. Teuea Toatu, 2002. "Unravelling the Pacific Paradox," International and Development Economics Working Papers idec02-2, International and Development Economics.
    4. Sanya Ojo & Sonny Nwankwo & Ayantunji Gbadamosi, 2013. "Ethnic entrepreneurship: the myths of informal and illegal enterprises in the UK," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(7-8), pages 587-611, September.
    5. Baraldi A. Laura, 2008. "Effects of Electoral Rules, Political Competition and Corruption on the Size and Composition of Government Consumption Spending: An Italian Regional Analysis," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-37, July.
    6. Dan Andrews & Aida Caldera Sánchez & Åsa Johansson, 2011. "Towards a Better Understanding of the Informal Economy," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 873, OECD Publishing.
    7. Axel Dreher & Friedrich Schneider, 2010. "Corruption and the shadow economy: an empirical analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 215-238, July.
    8. Geeta Batra & Daniel Kaufmann & Andrew H. W. Stone, 2003. "Investment Climate Around the World : Voices of the Firms from the World Business Environment Survey," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15143, April.
    9. Friedrich Schneider & Christopher Bajada, 2003. "The Size and Development of the Shadow Economies in the Asia-Pacific," Economics working papers 2003-01, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    10. World Bank, 2000. "Guatemala : Expenditure Reform in a Post-Conflict Country," World Bank Other Operational Studies 15481, The World Bank.
    11. Arvin-Rad, Hassan & Basu, Arnab K. & Willumsen, Maria, 2010. "Economic reform, informal-formal sector linkages and intervention in the informal sector in developing countries: A paradox," International Review of Economics & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 662-670, October.
    12. Georgios Moschovis, 2010. "Public Spending Allocation, Fiscal Performance and Corruption," Economic Papers, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 29(1), pages 64-79, March.
    13. Alm, James & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McClellan, Chandler, 2016. "Corruption and firm tax evasion," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 146-163.
    14. Farzanegan, Mohammad Reza, 2009. "Illegal trade in the Iranian economy: Evidence from a structural model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 489-507, December.
    15. repec:spr:annopr:v:243:y:2016:i:1:d:10.1007_s10479-014-1567-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Maurizio Bovi, 2003. "The Nature Of The Underground Economy. Some Evidence From Oecd Countries," ISAE Working Papers 26, ISTAT - Italian National Institute of Statistics - (Rome, ITALY).
    17. Kaufmann, Daniel & Batra, Geeta & Stone, Andrew H. W., 2003. "The Firms Speak: What the World Business Environment Survey Tells Us about Constraints on Private Sector Development," MPRA Paper 8213, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Bornhorst, Fabian & Gupta, Sanjeev & Thornton, John, 2009. "Natural resource endowments and the domestic revenue effort," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(4), pages 439-446, December.
    19. Unal Zenginobuz & Sumru Altug, 2009. "What has been the Role of Investment in Turkey's Growth Performance?," Working Papers 2009/02, Bogazici University, Department of Economics.
    20. Daniel Kaufmann & Massimo Mastruzzi & Diego Zavaleta, 2003. "Sustained Macroeconomic Reforms, Tepid Growth: A Governance Puzzle in Bolivia?," Development and Comp Systems 0308003, EconWPA.
    21. Francisco, Manuela & Pontara, Nicola, 2007. "Does corruption impact on firms'ability to conduct business in Mauritania ? evidence from investment climate survey data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4439, The World Bank.
    22. Ekaterina Vostroknutova, 2003. "Shadow Economy, Rent-Seeking Activities and the Perils of Reinforcement of the Rule of Law," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 2003-578, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
    23. Fedotenkov, Igor & Schneider, Friedrich, 2017. "Military expenditures and shadow economy in the Baltic States: Is there a link?," MPRA Paper 76194, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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