Citation: Chen, Martha Alter. 2001. "Women and Informality: A Global Picture, the Global Movement." SAIS Review, Vol. 21, No. 1.
Over the past two decades, employment in the informal sector has risen rapidly in all regions in the world. Until the recent Asian economic crisis, it was only the rapidly-growing economies of East and Southeast Asia that experienced substantial growth of modern sector employment. However, in the wake of that crisis, most of these countries have experienced a decline in formal wage employment and a concomitant rise in informal employment. Even before the crisis, official statistics indicated that the informal sector accounted for nearly half of total non-agricultural employment in East Asia, over half in Latin America and the Caribbean, and as much as 80 percent in other parts of Asia and in Africa. In terms of urban employment, the informal sector accounted for well over half in Africa and Asia and a quarter in Latin America and the Caribbean.