COVID-19 and the Informal Economy: Impact, Recovery and the Future

Marty Chen, Michael Rogan, Kunal Sen

Citation: Chen, Martha, Michael Rogan, and Kunal Sen (eds), COVID-19 and the Informal Economy (Oxford, 2024; online edn, Oxford Academic, 30 Apr. 2024),, accessed 8 May 2024.

A key challenge for the post-COVID-19 global economy is whether the disproportionate impact of the crisis on workers in informal employment, who form the majority of the world’s workforce, will be acknowledged or whether harmful and negative stereotypes will persist. Today, despite the role of these essential frontline workers (producing, processing, selling, cooking, and delivering food; providing cleaning, childcare, eldercare, health care, transport, waste removal, and other essential services), many observers consider the informal economy to be non-compliant (resisting registration and taxation) and associate it with low productivity (a drag on the economy) or with crime (illegal activities) and grime (blight on modern cities). Yet, most of these workers are working poor trying to earn an honest living in often hostile environments. Most suffered severe declines in work and earnings during successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, and related restrictions and recessions, and have gone deeper into debt and depleted their savings and assets in order to survive. 

This book –developed by UNU-WIDER, WIEGO and the Oxford University Press– explores and informs answers to that key challenge. It presents findings on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on informal workers in Asia, Africa, and North and Latin America. The chapters of the volume analyse the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on workers in informal employment; interrogate whether, and which, economic recovery plans and schemes include these workers; and explore what a more inclusive economic recovery and reforms might look like. It is open access.

Informal Economy Topic
Publication Type