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Shadow economy and tax evasion in the EU

Friedrich Schneider (Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler Univeristy, Linz, Austria)
Konrad Raczkowski (Institute of Economics, University of Social Sciences, Warsaw, Poland)
Bogdan Mróz (Department of Management, Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




The main purpose of this paper is to explore size of the shadow economy of 31 European Countries in 2014 and size of the shadow economy of 28 European Union countries over 2003-2014 (in per cent of official GDP). An additional objective is to identify tax evasion, as the problem of all the EU countries, answering the questions how better combat the tax fraud.


Estimates of the shadow economy for all 28 European Union countries and other three countries from Europe, i.e. Norway, Switzerland and Turkey – MIMIC method was applied.


The average size of the shadow economy in 28 EU countries was 22.6 per cent in 2003 and decreased to 18.6 per cent (of official GDP) in 2014. We also consider the most important driving forces of the shadow economy. The biggest ones are with 14.6 per cent unemployment and self-employment, followed by tax morale with 14.5 per cent and GDP growth with 14.3 per cent. The proportion of tax evasion (accounting for indirect taxation and self-employment activities) was on average 4.2 per cent (of official GDP) in Poland, 1.9 per cent in Germany and 2.9 per cent in the Czech Republic.

Research limitations/implications

The MIMIC statistics do not address a large part of the wholly illegal economy (of typically criminal nature) and, accordingly, it is not an absolute magnitude of the whole unofficial economy. However, it does not seem that other, alternative, methods of measuring the unofficial economy are better in individual terms.

Practical implications

Current statistical research should lead to practical acceptance in the framework of need for developing better organizational & legal ways for multi-level governance within the European Union, leading to effective methods of counteracting – in particular intra-Union fraud. In addition, the presentation of a review of typology of the main theories and studies regarding the unofficial economy aspects relating to tax evasion constitutes a practical review of the pursued research areas.

Social implications

Safeguarding the national economy as a whole, by seeking ways of reducing the scope of shadow economy.


Both regarding presentation of the latest shadow economy estimates and typology of its main studies and theories.



Schneider, F., Raczkowski, K. and Mróz, B. (2015), "Shadow economy and tax evasion in the EU", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 34-51.



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