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Consumers' motives for buying goods and services on an off-the-books basis

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To evaluate critically the common assumption that consumers purchase goods and services on an off-the-books basis so as to save money, this paper reports a 27-nation European survey that interviewed 26,659 citizens in 2007 about their undeclared transactions. This reveals that saving money is the sole motive in just 31% of off-the-books transactions, one of several rationales in 35% of exchanges, and not cited as a rationale in the remaining 34% of cases. Besides saving money, such transactions are conducted to circumvent the shortcomings of formal sector provision in terms of its availability, speed, reliability and quality, as well as for social and redistributive rationales. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for tackling Europe's cash-in-hand consumer culture.

Keywords: Europe; consumer behaviour; consumer motives; informal economy; undeclared work

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Management, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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