e-Government and the Shadow Economy: Evidence from Across the Globe

  • Linda Veiga
  • Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10428)


The shadow economy can be defined as economic activities that escape detection in the official estimates of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A larger size of the informal sector poses a significant challenge for policymaking as it reduces the reliability of official estimators and increases the likelihood of adopting ineffective policies. Furthermore, the shadow economy may also influence the allocation of resources. The phenomenon is particularly important in the developing world. This paper aims to investigate a possible contribution of e-Government (eGov) to mitigate the problem of the shadow economy. We argue that the implementation of eGov will allow the government to reduce the administrative burden costs, reduce tax evasion, and allow citizens to act as whistle-blowers, all of which may eventually lower the size of the shadow activities. Since the implementation of eGov corresponds to the stage of infrastructure development in the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), the diffusion of eGov also requires particular threshold points by which the impact can only be seen. We investigate the data of 147 countries during the period 2003–2013, where the data on estimated shadow economy (based on [1]) and eGov index (based on [2]) are both available. We found that increasing the eGov index significantly reduces the size of the shadow economy. Moreover, the marginal impact is greater in the developed and higher income countries. This sheds a light on the importance to achieve a sufficient level of critical mass in eGov infrastructure before countries are able to reap the benefits of the initiatives.


e-Government Shadow economy Growth Developing countries Public administration 



The authors are very grateful to Friedrich Schneider for providing the data on the estimates for the SE. This research was supported by the Programa Operacional da Região Norte, NORTE2020, in the context of project NORTE-01-0145-FEDER-000037 (SmartEGOV). This work was also carried out within the funding of COMPETE reference number POCI-01-0145-FEDER-006683 (UID/ECO/03182/2013), with the FCT/MECs (Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P.) financial support through national funding and by the ERDF through the Operational Program on Competitiveness and Internationalization - COMPETE 2020 under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement.


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© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidade do Minho and NIPEBragaPortugal
  2. 2.United Nations University-Operating Unit on Policy Driven Electronic Governance (UNU-EGOV)GuimarãesPortugal

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