Munich Personal RePEc Archive

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

Feige, Edgar L. (2016): Reflections on the meaning and measurement of Unobserved Economies: What do we really know about the "Shadow Economy". Forthcoming in: Journal of Tax Administration , Vol. Vol 2, No. 1 (March 2016)

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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.

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