What is it about?

This paper evaluates critically the major competing perspectives regarding the participation of the unemployed in undeclared work. These are firstly, the ‘marginalisation’ perspective which holds that the 15 unemployed disproportionately participate in and gain from undeclared work, and secondly, the ‘reinforcement’ perspective which holds that the unemployed benefit less from undeclared work than those in declared employment, meaning that undeclared work reinforces, rather than reduces, the inequalities produced by the declared realm.

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Why is it important?

Reporting the 20 results of a 2007 Eurobarometer survey on undeclared work comprising 26,659 face-to-face interviews conducted in the 27 member states of the European Union, the finding is that the marginalisation perspective is applicable to Southern Europe and the reinforcement perspective to Nordic nations. However, in East-Central Europe and Western European nations, as 25 well as the EU-27 as a whole, the marginalisation and reinforcement perspectives are not mutually exclusive but co-exist; the unemployed are more likely to participate in undeclared work but receive significantly lower earnings and gain less from undeclared work than those working undeclared who are in declared jobs. The outcome is a call for a new ‘reinforced 30 marginalisation’ perspective which holds that the unemployed disproportionately engage in undeclared work but their participation reinforces their marginalised position relative to the employed. The paper then seeks tentative explanations for these findings.

Perspectives

Do the unemployed participate in the informal economy more than the employed?

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: Evaluating the Participation of the Unemployed in Undeclared Work, European Societies, May 2012, Taylor & Francis, DOI: 10.1080/14616696.2012.677051.
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