Handbook of Social Policy and Development
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Handbook of Social Policy and Development

Edited by James Midgley, Rebecca Surender and Laura Alfers

The Handbook of Social Policy and Development makes a groundbreaking, coherent case for enhancing collaboration between social policy and development. With wide ranging chapters, it discusses a myriad of ways in which this can be done, exploring both academic and practical activities. As the conventional distinction between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries becomes increasingly blurred, this Handbook explores how collaboration between social policy and development is needed to meet global social needs.
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Chapter 13: The informal economy and informal employment

Francie Lund


Social policy and development studies are both concerned with poverty and the improvement of well-being, but on the whole neither integrates a consideration of the specific working conditions of informal workers in their analyses or their programmes. The majority of those who work in the Global South are informal workers, and the majority of them, in turn, are self-employed, and poor. The chapter suggests that informal workers and the informal economy must receive greater attention in the frameworks and fields of study of both social policy and development studies. Summarized data about the size of the informal economy are presented, as well as the now widely accepted standard definition of status in employment, and the relationship between position in the informal economy, gender and poverty risk. Three issues are: the critical role played (or not played) by the local level of governments in working conditions of the working poor; the links between women’s unpaid care work, informal labour markets and ‘women’s economic empowerment’; and the need for informal workers and their organizations to have greater representation and voice in policy reform and implementation. The chapter identifies research methods on the informal economy that have been used with good effect – among others, time use studies, case studies and value chain analysis. It also identifies lines of enquiry for further for further quantitative and qualitative research.

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