Chapter 9: Street vendors in Tunisia: encountering the informal economy
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As in many countries, street vendors in Tunisia are among the most visible and controversial workers in the informal economy. Local and national officials, shopkeepers, businessmen and the media demonise street vendors, accusing them of illegally using public space, evading taxes, dealing in smuggled goods and generally undermining the state. The few who defend street vendors argue that they are innocent victims of a bad economy, unable to find regular jobs, simply struggling to survive. A popular policy recommendation is formalisation—integrating the informal street vendors into the formal economy. Indeed, some workers manage to formalise, but most cannot. This chapter presents five encounters with diverse kinds of street vendors and locates them very low in Tunisia’s income pyramid. In the search for effective policies toward street vendors and informal workers in general, this chapter advocates a methodology of integrating different kinds of studies—qualitative and quantitative, direct and indirect, micro and macro.

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Edited by Jacques Charmes