Freakonomics: Shadow Economy Is Second Largest in The World

11/07/2011 03:25 pm ET | Updated Jan 07, 2012

By Freakonomics:

In 2009, the OECD concluded that half the world's workers (almost 1.8 billion people) were employed in the shadow economy. By 2020, the OECD predicts the shadow economy will employ two-thirds of the world's workers. This new economy even has a name: "System D."

In a new article (accompanying photoessay here) for Foreign Policy, Robert Neuwirth explains:

System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them debrouillards. To say a man is a debrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality.

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