Statistics on the size, composition, contribution, and characteristics of the informal workforce are needed to inform economic and social policies. When WIEGO began in the late 1990s, the informal sector was a relatively new concept in labour statistics. Data were available for very few countries. Further, the concept of the informal sector did not include certain types of wage employment that shared the risks associated with informality but were outside informal enterprises.
Recognizing the power of statistics, WIEGO’s founders set mainstreaming of the measurement of the informal economy in national labour force and other economic statistics as a primary goal. Since then, WIEGO has played an important role in the development of statistics on all aspects of the informal economy.
Our Unique, Dedicated Statistics Programme
WIEGO’s Statistics Programme promotes the power of statistics in making visible the importance of the informal economy and the numbers and situation of those working in it. It seeks to develop statistics on the informal economy as an essential component of mainstream or official statistics at national, regional and international levels.
Collaboration is key to the success of this statistical work. WIEGO has built on the efforts of, and worked collaboratively with, national statistics offices as well as regional and international organizations, notably the International Labour Organization and the International Expert Group on Informal Sector Statistics.
WIEGO also works directly with end users of data – membership-based organizations of informal workers, NGOs, research institutions, development agencies and policymakers. These users need reliable data to draw attention to the situation of informal workers, to conduct analyses, and to inform their efforts to influence policy.
Learn about the work of the Statistics Programme.
A Statistical Picture of the Informal Economy
Working with the International Labour Organization, WIEGO has compiled available national data on the size and composition of the informal economy in developing countries and non-standard work in developed countries. A summary of regional estimates appears on our Statistical Picture webpage.
- Working Paper #2, Statistics on the Informal Economy: Definitions, Regional Estimates & Challenges provides a more in-depth summary of what the newly available data tell us and also of the efforts to improve data.
- Detailed data for countries is available in ILO/WIEGO, Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture (2nd edition).