Colin C. Williams is Professor of Public Policy in the Management School at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Evaluating cross-national variations in the extent and nature of informal employment in the European Union
Article first published online: 12 AUG 2013
© 2013 Brian Towers (BRITOW) and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Industrial Relations Journal
Volume 44, Issue 5-6, pages 479–494, November 2013
How to Cite
Williams, C. C. (2013), Evaluating cross-national variations in the extent and nature of informal employment in the European Union. Industrial Relations Journal, 44: 479–494. doi: 10.1111/irj.12030
- Issue published online: 19 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 12 AUG 2013
This article evaluates critically the contrasting explanations for the cross-national variations in the prevalence and nature of informal employment, which variously view such work as more prevalent in poorer, under-developed economies; driven by high taxes, corruption and state interference that lead workers to exit formal employment; or driven by inadequate state intervention leading to the exclusion of workers from formal employment and state welfare provision. By analysing cross-national variations across the European Union in the size of informal employment using indirect measurement methods and in its varying character using evidence from a 2007 Eurobarometer survey, it was found that wealthier, less corrupt and more equal economies with higher levels of labour market intervention, social protection and redistribution via social transfers have lower levels of informal employment, much of which is conducted to exit formal employment. The paper concludes by exploring the theoretical and policy implications.