What is it about?

Viewing undeclared work as low-paid, exploitative, organised employment conducted under sweatshop conditions, public policy has widely treated this illegitimate sphere as a hindrance to development and actively pursued its deterrence using stringent regulations and punitive measures to change the cost-benefit ratio for those considering participation in such endeavour. In this paper, however, the intention is to evaluate critically this portrait of the nature of undeclared work and resultant public policy approach.

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Why is it important?

To evaluate this representation of undeclared work and consequent public policy approach, empirical evidence is reported from 861 face-to-face interviews in English localities.The finding is that the majority of undeclared work is undertaken on a self-employed basis by people who have identified an opportunity to provide a good or service and are taking a calculated risk in order to fulfil others needs.

Perspectives

By re-reading the nature of undeclared work as primarily composed of self-employed activity, it highlights the need for public policy to stop treating undeclared work purely as something to be deterred and for more emphasis to be put on developing enabling initiatives to help such workers formalise their business ventures.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

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This page is a summary of: The undeclared sector, self‐employment and public policy, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, August 2005, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/13552550510603289.
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