A Thematic Literature Review on the Concept of Informal Sector

  • Imlisunep Changkery North Eastern Hill University Shillong,Meghalaya India
Keywords: Informal sector, Keith hart, Development literature


The informal sector has slowly come to gain recognition in the literature of development since the term was first applied by Keith hart. The present study has attempted to review the concept and the different connotations that informal sector has come to possess with the passage of time. Apart from the concept and definitions, the study has looked into the bearings that this sector has on employment, earnings, productivity and migration. Though the sector is often classified as marginalized and carried out on the sidelines of the economy, its potential for growth and contribution for sustaining livelihoods has confirmed its legitimacy as a viable sector of the economy.


Aziz, A. (1984). Urban poor and urban informal sector. Ashish Publishing
House, New Delhi.
Asian development Bank and BPS-Statistics Indonesia. (2011). The informal
sector and informal employment in Indonesia. Asian Development Bank.

Burki A.A. and Ubaidullah (1992). Earnings, training and employment in
Gujranwala's urban informal sector: evolution or involution? Pakistan Economic & Social Review, 13(1), 49-66.

Brown, A. (2005). Claiming rights to the street: The role of public space and
diversity in governance of the street economy. School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University
Bargain O. and Kwenda P. (2011). Earnings structures, informal employment,
and self-employment: New evidence from Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. Review of Income and Wealth, (57).

Castells, M., & Portes, A. (1989). World underneath: The origins, dynamics,
and effects of the informal economy. In A. Portes, M. Castells, & L. Benton (ed.), The Informal Economy: Studies in advanced and less developed countries, 11-37.

Charmes, J. (1990). A critical review of concepts, definitions and studies in
the informal sector. In Turnham. D, Salome. B & Schwarz. A (Ed.), Employment and Development – A New Review of Evidence, OECD.
(1998). Informal sector, poverty and gender.A Review of
Empirical Evidence. Washington D.C., The World Bank.

Chen.M. (2004). Rethinking the informal economy: Linkages with the formal
economy and the formal regulatory environment. Paper presented to Unlocking Human Potential: Linking the Informal and Formal Sectors, EGDI and UNU-WIDER conference, Helsinki.

Cling Jean-Pierre, et al. (2010). Comparing the informal sector in Vietnam and
Africa. forthcoming in the informal sector in Vietnam: A focus on Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi: The Gioi Editions.

Chandra, N. and Pratap S. (2001). Organising informal sector workers. In
Amitabh Kundu and A.N. Sarma (Eds.), Informal Sector in India, Institute for Human Development, New Delhi.

Davies, R. (1979). Informal sector or subordinate mode of production? A
mode. In R. Bromley and C. Gerry (Ed.), Casual work and poverty in third world cities. John Wiley.

De Soto, H. (1989). The other path: The invisible revolution in the third world.
Harper & Row,

Devey, et.al. (2006). Second best? Trends and linkages in the informal economy in South Africa. Development Policy Research Unit, Working Paper 06/102. South Africa.

Das, K. (2000). Workers and earnings in informal manufacturing – Evidence
and issues in estimation. The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, 43 (2), 261-276.

Farrel, D. (2000). Reducing unemployment through the informal sector – A
case study of Nigeria. European Journal of Economics, Finance and Administrative Sciences, 11,9.

Falco P. (2011). Determinants of income in informal self-employment: New
evidence from a long African panel. Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.

Fidler, P. and Webster. L. (1996). The informal sectors of West Africa. In
Fidler .P. and Webster .L. (Ed.) The Informal Sector and Microfinance in West Africa. Washington D.C: The World Bank.

Geertz, C. (1963). Peddlers and princes: Social change and economic
modernization in two Indonesian towns, Chicago. University of Chicago.

Gerry, C. (1974). Petty producers and the urban economy: A case study of Dakar, World Employment Programme, Research Working Paper, 8, Geneva, ILO

Hart, K. (1973). Informal income opportunities and urban employment in
Ghana. Journal of Modern African Studies. 11, 61-89

Hirschman, A. (1973). An alternative explanation of contemporary
harriedness. Quarterly Journal of Economics. 87 (4), 634–37.

ILO (1972). Employment, incomes and equality: A strategy for increasing
productive employment in Kenya. Geneva.

Kainth G.S. (2009). Push and pull factors of migration: A case of brick kiln
industry of Punjab state. Asia-Pacific Journal of Social Sciences, 1, 82-116.

Koo H. and Smith C. P. (1983). Migration, the urban informal sector and
earnings in Philippines. The Sociological Quarterly, 24(2), 219-232.

Krstić G. and Sanfey P. (2010). Earnings inequality and the informal economy: Evidence from Serbia. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, One Exchange Square, London.

Lewis, W.A. (1954). Economic development with unlimited supplies of
labour. In A.N. Agarwalla & Singh. S.P. (Ed.), The Manchester School of Economics and Social Studies, 139-191.

Maloney, W.F. (2004). Informality revisited. World Development, 32(7) 1159-

Moser, C.O.N. (1978). Informal sector or petty commodity production dualism
or dependence in urban development? World Development Report, 6(9), 1041-1064

Mead, D. C. and Morrison, C. (1996). The informal sector elephant. World
Development, 24, 1611-19.

Menyah, D. (2009).The informal sector revisited: Botswana’s developmental
state and micro-enterprise development. Ph.D Dissertation, University of Minnesota.

Meng X. (2001). The informal sector and rural-urban migration-A Chinese
case Study. Asian Economic Journal, 15(1).

National Institute of Urban affairs (1987). Structure and Performance of Informal Enterprises: A Study of Four Cities, Research Study Series No. 19, New Delhi

Portes, A. (1994). The informal economy and its paradox. In Neil J. Smelser
and Richard Swedberg (Ed.), The Handbook of Economic Sociology, Princeton University Press, 426-449.

Panda, B. (1998). Urban informal manufacturing sector in Cuttack, Orissa.
Ph.D. Dissertation, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar.

Philip, C.C. H. (2009). China’s neglected informal economy: Reality and
theory. Modern China, 35 (4), Sage Publications.

Reynolds, L.G. (1969). Economic development with surplus labour: Some
complications. Oxford Economic Papers.

Sethuraman, S.V. (1976). Jakarta urban development and employment.
International Labour Organization, Geneva.

Sharma R.K. and Abraham V. (2004). Labour productivity in the Indian
unorganised service sector: Measurement issues, patterns and determinants. The Indian Journal of Labour Economics, 47(4).

Shaw, A. (1985). The informal sector in a third world economy: A case study
of Calcutta. Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, 17 (1), 42-53.

Sherifat, Y.O. (2011). A theoretical analysis of the concept of informal
economy and informality in developing countries. European Journal of Social Sciences, 20(4).

Suharto, E. (2002). Profiles and dynamics of the urban informal sector in
Indonesia: A study of Pedagang Kakilima in Bandung. Ph.D Dissertation, Massey University.

Tokman, V.E. (1978). Competition between the Informal and Formal Sectors
in Retailing: The case of Santiago. World Development, 6(9/10).

Tokman, V. E. (1992). The informal sector in Latin America - From
underground to legality. In Tokman, V.E., (Ed.), Beyond Regulation: The Informal Economy in Latin America, Lynne Rienner publishers.

Taymaz E. (2009). Informality and productivity: productivity differentials
between formal and informal firms in Turkey. ERC Working Papers in Economics 09/01 Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey.

Timalsina, K.P. (2007). Rural urban migration and livelihood in the informal
sector: A study of street vendors of Kathmandu Metropolitan city, Nepal, Ph.D thesis, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
Upadhyay, V. (2007). Employment and earnings in urban informal sector – A
study on Arunachal Pradesh. V.V. Giri NLI, NOIDA.

Vishwanathan, K.U. (2002). The informal Sector and Micro Finance
institutions in West Africa. In Leila Webster and Peter Fidler (Ed.), The Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 57 (1), 126-129.

Xaba, et al. (2002). The informal sector in Sub-Saharan Africa. ILO Working
Paper on the Informal Economy, 10.
How to Cite
Changkery, I. (2014). A Thematic Literature Review on the Concept of Informal Sector. Journal of Global Economy, 10(3), 163-176. Retrieved from http://www.rcssindia.org/jge/index.php/jge/article/view/360