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Informal Economy & WIEGO

Statistical Picture

Statistics on the size, composition, contribution, and other dimensions of the informal economy are needed to inform economic and social policies. Until recently only limited data have been available on informal employment and the informal economy.

Keith Hart: Coiner of Term “Informal Sector”

Keith Hart: Coiner of Term “Informal Sector”

Late 1960s Study in Accra, Ghana

Public Space for All

Public space is a public good - for all city residents to access and enjoy, whether it is for leisure, transportation or earning a livelihood. However, competing uses of public space cause conflict, and often it is the most vulnerable users, informal workers, who are excluded. WIEGO believes struggles over public space should not be a zero sum game - rather, regulated public spaces offer possibilities for diverse uses to co-exist, ultimately making cities more vibrant and inclusive.

Ratification by Countries of Domestic Workers' Convention (C189)

Ratification by Countries of Domestic Workers' Convention (C189)

These countries have ratified the Domestic Workers Convention 2011 (C189) and Recommendation (No. 201):

Domestic Workers celebrate C189 Convention

Poverty & Growth Linkages

The relationship between informality, poverty, and growth are complex. This section of the website explores what is known about these relationships.

  Veronica Boakye trading at Kwame Nkrumah Circle Market in Accra, Ghana

Worker Stories

The informal economy has many faces and takes many forms across several occupations. This selection of workers' stories illuminates the struggles and the successes of women and men across the world.

Major Occupational Groups of Informal Workers

Informal Workers and the Work They Do

Street vendors in Mexico City, rickshaw pullers in Calcutta, jeepney drivers in Manila, push-cart vendors in New York city,  garbage collectors in Bogotá, roadside barbers in Durban ... Those who work outside in the open are the more visible occupational groups in the informal  economy. The streets of cities, towns, and villages in most developing countries – and in many developed countries – are busy. Street and market vendors can be found everywhere selling goods of every conceivable kind.

Typology of Domestic Workers

This material is drawn from Chen, Martha A. 2011. “Recognizing Domestic Workers, Regulating Domestic Work: Conceptual, Measurement, and Regulatory Challenges.” Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp 167-184.

Links with Poverty

Not all informal workers are poor and not all working poor are engaged in the informal economy. Some informal operators – especially those who hire others – are not poor, while some formal wage workers are poor. But there is a significant overlap between working in the informal economy and being poor. This section details what is known about the relationship between working in the informal economy and being poor.

Key Debates about Street Vending

Lima peru street vendors

Street vending generates debates around the world. The key debates are summarized here.