Unemployment and the shadow economy in the OECD

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Revue économique, 2009, 60 (2009/5), pp. 1033 - 1067
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Although there has been considerable discussion on the size of the shadow economy, comparatively little attention has been given to relationship between unemployment and participation in this sector. The objective of this paper is to examine participation in the shadow economy by those who claim to be unemployed and in receipt of social security benefits but working surreptitiously in the shadow economy. In doing so, we provide a first attempt at gauging the contributions by the unemployed to shadow economy activity. It is of considerable policy interest to know how the extent and duration of shadow economy activity are influenced by changes in the unemployment rate. A significant positive relationship between shadow economy activity and unemployment can be said to generate employment cycles in the shadow economy, which if supported by welfare payments, distorts the equity in the social security system. We find that changes in unemployment contribute to the employment cycles in the shadow economy, which on the whole appears to increase duration spells in unemployment.
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