What is it about?

In recent decades, it has been widely assumed that undeclared work is rife amongst the self-employed. Until now, however, few have evaluated the extent and nature of the participation of the self-employed in undeclared work and whether they do so out of choice or necessity. The aim of this paper is to fill this gap. To do this, an extensive 2007 Eurobarometer survey on undeclared work is reported comprising 26,659 face-to-face interviews conducted in the 27 member states of the European Union.

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Why is it important?

The finding is that some 1 in 12 of the 1,842 self-employed respondents surveyed had participated in undeclared work in the previous year, although the propensity of the self-employed to engage in undeclared work varies significantly both socio-demographically and spatially. Analysing whether they do so out of choice or necessity, meanwhile, various ratios of involuntary-to-voluntary participation in undeclared work are found to prevail across different populations, places and types of undeclared work. The paper concludes by reviewing the implications for policy. Its argument is not only that state authorities targeting the self-employed alone will fail to eradicate undeclared work but also that a more variegated approach is required if the participation of the self-employed in undeclared work is to be efficiently and effectively tackled.

Perspectives

Unpacks the participation of the self-employed in the informal economy in Europe

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Evaluating the participation of the self-employed in undeclared work: some evidence from a 27-nation European survey, International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, July 2011, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s11365-011-0195-y.
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