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Hidden workers and the hidden worker potential in the Netherlands

Brugt Kazemier ()

Economic Analysis and Policy, 2014, vol. 44, issue 1, 39-50

Abstract: Statistics Netherlands conducted several surveys on the size and the structure of the hidden labour market in 2006. Face-to-face surveys yielded the best results of all methods tested, with the least non-response and the most people admitting hidden activities. Nine to ten percent of the respondents admitted that they did not report all of their income to the tax or social security authorities. Nevertheless, the decision was made to continue the surveys online in 2007ó2010 for budgetary reasons. The survey included questions on the supply of hidden labour (contractors), and on the demand (customers): house cleaning and home maintenance. The outcomes do not differ between face-to-face and online surveys: in either case the demand based estimates were 3 to 10 times higher than the supply based estimates. Moreover, the outcomes are matched by the results of other research. So ideally future survey research should focus on the demand side of the hidden labour market. About 30% of all respondents said that they would work off the record if they had the chance, but most did not. The people who do are mostly young, have technical skills, small jobs or regular work in agriculture, construction, sports, recreation, hotels, cafés or restaurants. Having debts affects the willingness but not the opportunity to work off the record. Perceived high probability of detection may act as a deterrent. In contrast to the mid-eighties, people on social benefits participate no more in the hidden labour market than others. Another difference is that women are as well represented as men.

Date: 2014
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