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Informal Economy & WIEGO

Links with Growth

This section explores the two-way linkages between informality and growth: the impact of the informal economy on economic growth, and the impact of economic growth on the informal economy. How much and in what ways does the informal economy contribute to economic growth? Or does the informal economy account for low productivity and low growth? Does the size of the informal economy shrink during economic growth and expand during economic slumps or downturns? Is it, in other words, counter-cyclical or pro-cyclical?

Links with Economic Crises

Economic crises lead to increased unemployment through loss of jobs in the formal economy and to increased employment – through new entrants – in the informal economy. For example, recent estimates by the International Labour Organization (ILO) suggest informal employment in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, and Peru  increased from 52.9 per cent of total employment in 2007 to 53 per cent in 2008 and 53.6 per cent in 2009 (ILO 2009a).

Basic Categories of Waste Pickers

Although the kinds of work waste pickers do differs across countries, some basic categories exist. These include:waste picker kkpkp

Informal Workers Organizing Internationally

Timeline of Key Events

sewa women1970s  

1972 – Founding of SEWA

1980s
1983 – SEWA affiliates with International Union of Food and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF)
1988 – Founding of Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Household Workers (CONLACTRAHO)
1989 – Founding of National Network of Homeworkers (PATAMABA) Philippines

Voluntary Codes of Conduct

How Voluntary Codes of Conduct can Improve the Situation of Informal Workers

The Example of New Look, an Ethical Trading Initiative Member Company, Working with Factories to Improve Job Quality for Workers1

Elba Rojas, Street Vendor in Lima, Peru

(Lima, November 2013) For 25 years, Elba Rojas has sold chilis in Lima’s thriving wholesale market, La Parada. She says selling fresh produce here provided more income than she could have earned in a factory.Street vendor in Lima

Background on Informal Economy Budget Analysis

Informal Economy Budget Analysis (IEBA) explores how budgets respond to the informal economy, draws inspiration from gender-responsive budgeting initiatives and participatory budget initiatives.

Gender-responsive budgeting initiatives take many forms and can involve diverse actors. However, all ask the underlying question as to how government budgets differentially address the needs and interests of women and men, girls and boys.

Challenges of Gathering Statistics on Street Vendors

Finding reliable data on the size of the street vending population in any given city can be challenging. Official statistics on street vendors are available only in a few countries. The box below explains.

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.