Revisiting the undeclared service economy as a dual labour market: lessons from a 2019 Eurobarometer survey

Williams C. C., Kayaoğlu Yılmaz A.

SERVICE INDUSTRIES JOURNAL, vol.43, no.13-14, pp.940-961, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 13-14
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/02642069.2021.1932830
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, Periodicals Index Online, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Elite, Business Source Premier, CAB Abstracts, Geobase, Hospitality & Tourism Complete, Hospitality & Tourism Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.940-961
  • Keywords: dual economy, dual labour market, Europe, Informal sector, service sector, undeclared work
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The aim of this paper is to transcend the long-standing depiction that workers universally participate in the undeclared service economy out of necessity due to their exclusion from the formal labour market, by proposing and evaluating the existence of a dual undeclared labour market in the service sector composed of an 'upper-tier' of voluntary exit-driven and 'lower-tier' of exclusion-driven undeclared service sector workers. Reporting a 2019 Eurobarometer survey conducted in 28 European countries, a dual labour market in the undeclared service economy is validated. Three-quarters of undeclared service workers report either purely exit- or exclusion driven rationales. For every lower tier undeclared service worker, 6.7 are in the upper tier, with those in the voluntary exit-driven upper tier more likely to be older, self-employed, having spent time in full-time education, and to be living in Western Europe and Nordic countries. The theoretical and policy implications are then discussed.