‘Off the Books’ Consumption: Determinants and Practice in Belize, Central America

Jana S. Pisani, Michael J Pisani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this article is to explore the determinants, practice, and punishment risk of “off the books” consumption in Belize, Central America. We operationalize off the books consumption as market transactions that evade governmental oversight. Our data source is a 2014 random national sample of 1,534 Belizeans surveyed through the Latin America Public Opinion Project (LAPOP). An empirical model of off the books consumption explores the key demographic and facilitating variables that comprise the determinants and predicts the likelihood of off the books consumption for four household goods and services. A significant percentage of respondents indicate that there is an unlikely probability of government punishment for the following off the books transactions: buying pirated DVDs (78.2%), obtaining electricity without paying (42.5%), unauthorized land acquisition (41.9%), and unauthorized home building or remodeling without government permits (53.5%). Both demographic variables (e.g., gender, residence, income, ethnicity, religion) and facilitating variables (e.g., religiosity, sales receipts) are significant predictors of off the books consumption. We contextualize our findings within the practice of off the books consumption in Belize, a small emerging economy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Latin Americanist
StatePublished - 2018


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