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Informal Economy Topic(s): History & Debates

WIEGO Network: Holistic Framework

Composition

Six-Segment Model by Status of Employment

In the International Classification of Status of Employment, five statuses of employment – employer, employee, own account worker, unpaid contributing family worker, and member of producer cooperative – are defined by the type/degree of economic risk (of losing job and/or earnings) and of authority (over establishment and other workers).

Informal Economy Debates: Dominant Schools of Thought

Over the years, the debate on the informal economy has crystallized into four dominant schools of thought regarding the causes, composition, and nature of the informal economy, and what should be done about it. There is merit to each of these perspectives, but each school reflects just a “slice of the (informal) pie.” The informal economy as a whole is more heterogeneous and complex than the sum of these perspectives would suggest.

Agenda-Setting Research Conference

speaker at Agenda-Setting Research conferenceOver the past decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in the informal economy as it continues to grow and to appear in new guises around the world. More institutions and individuals have begun to do research on the informal economy. Many of them begin by asking questions regarding the definition, composition, and causal explanation of the informal economy.

Urban Informal Workers & The Green Economy

A large proportion of those threatened by climate change are concentrated in urban centres in low-/middle-income countries.1 The urban poor – the majority of whom work informally – are at significant risk from the increased intensity and frequency of storms, flooding, landslides, heat waves and constraints on fresh water associated with climate change.2  Also, as climate change drives increasing numbers of rural poor into cities, the urban working poor face increasing competition.

World Bank: A Holistic Framework

In 2007, the Latin America division of the World Bank brought out a publication entitled Informality: Exit and Exclusion co-authored by Guillermo Perry, William F. Maloney, Omar Arias, Pablo Fajnzylber, and Jaime Saavedra. In this publication, the co-authors presented a holistic framework of the composition and causes of informality, as follows:

Ravi Kanbur: A Holistic Framework

In 2009, Ravi Kanbur, Professor of Economics at Cornell University, posited a conceptual framework for distinguishing between four types of economic responses to regulation, as follows:

A. Stay within the ambit of the regulation and comply.
B. Stay within the ambit of the regulation but not comply.
C. Adjust activity to move out of the ambit of the regulation.
D. Outside the ambit of the regulation in the first place, so no need to adjust.