Undeclared Work in the European Construction Industry: Evidence from a 2007 Eurobarometer Survey
Construction Management and Economics, Vol. 29, No. 8, pp. 853-867, 2011
Posted: 14 Dec 2015
Date Written: 2011
A widespread assumption has been that undeclared work is rife in the European construction industry. Despite this, there have been no European-wide surveys of the prevalence and character of undeclared work in this sector of the economy. To fill this gap, the findings are reported of a 2007 Eurobarometer survey on undeclared work involving 26 659 face-to-face interviews undertaken in 27 European Union member states. This reveals the widespread prevalence of undeclared work in the European construction industry along with its heterogeneous forms and uneven distribution both spatially and across different groups of the construction workforce. It then evaluates what needs to be done to tackle this problem. The argument is that doing nothing is seldom an option because this leaves intact the existing negative impacts of undeclared work on construction businesses, the construction workforce, customers and governments. Pursuing the eradication of such work is neither effective nor necessarily desirable since most governments wish to move such endeavour into the declared realm rather than simply eradicate it. In consequence, this paper advocates a policy approach of facilitating the formalization of declared work and then details a range of preventative, curative and commitment policy measures for achieving this in the European construction industry.
Keywords: Informal employment, shadow economy, tax compliance, construction sector, European Union
JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation