Informality, Poverty & Growth: Labour Markets In China & India

Research Design Workshop, April, 2007, Harvard University

Hosted by Asia Center, Harvard University
Organized by WIEGO and IDS, Sussex

This workshop was planned as part of a series of joint learning and program design activities involving teams of researchers from China and India working on informal employment in the two economies. Following a study tour of 16 Chinese participants to India on February 1, 2007 (read the Workshop Report from the Meeting in Delhi), this workshop was planned to bring a smaller group of participants (six members from each country team) together with other technical advisors and relevant experts in order to:

  • share existing findings and thinking about research and policy on informal employment in the two countries
  • receive feedback on the findings, initial thinking and approach to the project from a wider audience of academics, practitioners and funders, as a contribution to the development of the next phase in the project
  • work as a team on developing a proposal to be submitted to funders for future research

The activities included internal discussions among the project team and advisors, and a larger workshop. Below please find links to the reports of the two workshops as well as the powerpoint presentations given during the April workshop.

Workshop Reports

Workshop Report from the April 2007 Research Design Workshop in Cambridge

Annex 1 - List of Participants
Annex 2 - Research Design Workshop Agenda and Links to Presentations
Annex 3- Research Project Outline

Annex 4 - Technical Advisors Notes,“Employment, the Informal Sector, and Poverty: Data and Analytical Challenges,” 2007. James Heintz and Joann Vanek

Summary: The importance of improving data on employment-poverty linkages should not be underestimated. Without a better understanding of these relationships, development strategies aimed at poverty reduction may be incomplete, misdirected, or unsustainable. Improvements in data that allow analysis of the employment-poverty nexus is essential if this challenge is to be overcome and appropriate policies implemented.

This report identifies major conceptual and measurement issues associated with linking informal employment to poverty outcomes and suggests ways to address these challenges. The three major challenges discussed in detail are: (1) bridging individual-level and household-level analysis; (2) forging linkages between different sources of data and types of surveys; and (3) improving measures of earnings and poverty. The report then provides concrete examples of how existing datasets have been analyzed with regard to the linkages between informal employment, the informal sector, and poverty outcomes. The report highlights steps that must be taken if such analysis were to be adapted and applied more generally.

Workshop Presentations

Session 1 - Background Presentations on Key Issues and Questions

Background, Goals, and Framework of Project
Sarah Cook, University of Sussex, UK

The Informal Economy: New Definition and Recent Trends
Marty Chen, Harvard University, USA

China and India: Comparative Overview
Sarah Cook and Marty Chen

Labor Market in India
Jeemol Unni, Gujarat Institute for Development Research and National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, India

Labor Market Reform and Employment Restructuring in China
Ming Lu, Fudan University, China

Session 1 - Discussant Comments on Key Issues and Questions

Discussant Comments
Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University, UK
Richard Freeman, Harvard University, USA

Session 2 - Presentations on Research Component #1 (Data Methology) and Research Component #2 (Data Analysis)

Research Component # 1 Data Methodology
N.S. Sastry, ex-National Sample Survey Organisation, India

Research Component # 2 Data Analysis
Xizhe Peng, Fudan University, China
Yaowu Wu, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China
Jeemol Unni, Gujarat Institute for Development Research and National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, India

Session 3 - Presentations on Research Component #3 (Qualitative Case Studies)

Informality, Poverty, and Growth: The Labour Force in China and India
Marty Chen, Harvard University, USA

Subsector Value Chain and Occupational Studies
Yuan Ren, Fudan University, China

A Study on Domestic Services Industry in Shanghai
Jufen Wang, Fudan University, China

Traditional Herbal Medicine Sector, China: Applying Value Chain Analysis
Yao Yu, Chinese Academy of Social Science, China

Findings from Studies of Homebased Workers
Ratna Sudarshan, Institute of Social Studies Trust, India

Research and Action at SEWA
Shalini Sinha, SEWA, India

Session 3 - Discussant Comments on Research Component #3

Discussants: Comments and Suggestions
Mei-Ling Ellerman, USA
Katherine McFate, Ford Foundation, USA

Session 4 - Presentations on the Policy, Legal and Institutional Environment in China and India

Policy, Legal and Institutional Environment
Xizhe Peng, Fudan University, China

Legislation to Protect Informal Workers in India
Kamala Sankaran, University of Delhi, India

Suman Bery, NCAER, India

Session 4 - Discussant Comments on  the Policy, Legal and Institutional Environment in China and India

Dwight Perkins, Harvard University, USA
Discussant Comments
Barbara Harriss-White, Oxford University, UK