Original Research

Measuring the informal economy in South Africa

S Saunders, E Loots
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 8, No 1 | a1286 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v8i1.1286 | © 2015 S Saunders, E Loots | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 January 2015 | Published: 13 January 2015

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S Saunders, Monash University
E Loots, University of the Free State

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Abstract

Measuring the size of the South African informal economy has received inadequate attention, making it difficult for policy-makers to assess the impact of policy measures to stimulate informal economic activity. This article aims to estimate the size of the informal economy by using the Currency Demand Approach.  The empirical results reveal that the informal economy as a percentage of GDP decreased from 1967 to 1993, before levelling off.  The growth in the informal econmy has also underperformed in comparison to formal economic growth. There appears to be a causal relationship running from the informal to the formal economy. Macro-economic policies aimed at the formal economy will not necessarily 'trickle down' to the informal, while these polcies aimed at the informal economy may have a profound effect on the formal economy.

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