This landmark volume brings together leading scholars in the field to investigate recent conceptual shifts, research findings and policy debates on the informal economy as well as future challenges and directions for research and policy. Well over half of the global workforce and the vast majority of the workforce in developing countries work in the informal economy, and in countries around the world new forms of informal employment are emerging. Yet the informal workforce is not well understood, remains undervalued and is widely stigmatised.  

Contributors to the volume bridge a range of disciplinary perspectives including anthropology, development economics, law, political science, social policy, sociology, statistics, urban planning and design. The Informal Economy Revisited also focuses on specific groups of informal workers, including home-based workers, street vendors and waste pickers, to provide a grounded insight into disciplinary debates. Ultimately, the book calls for a paradigm shift in how the informal economy is perceived to reflect the realities of informal work in the Global South, as well as the informal practices of the state and capital, not just labour. 

The Informal Economy Revisited is the culmination of 20 years of pioneering work by WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing), a global network of researchers, development practitioners and organisations of informal workers in 90 countries. Researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and advocates will all find this book an invaluable guide to the significance and complexities of the informal economy, and its role in today’s globalised economy.

The Open Access version of this book, available at

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9780429200724, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license

chapter |28 pages


ByMartha Chen, Françoise Carré
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part Part I|16 pages

The informal economy revisited

chapter 1|7 pages


The bane of the labouring poor under globalised capitalism
ByJan Breman
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chapter 2|7 pages

India’s informal economy

Past, present and future
ByBarbara Harriss-White
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part Part II|32 pages

Informal employment

chapter 3|5 pages

Advances in statistics on informal employment

An overview highlighting WIEGO’s contributions
ByJoann Vanek
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chapter 4|8 pages

Informal employment in developed countries

Relevance and statistical measurement
ByFrançoise Carré
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chapter 5|7 pages

The measurement of informal employment in Mexico

ByRodrigo Negrete
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chapter 6|10 pages

WIEGO research on informal employment

Key methods, variables and findings
ByMartha Chen
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part Part III|26 pages

Economics and the informal economy

chapter 7|5 pages

Assessing taxation and informality

Disaggregated frameworks matter
ByRavi Kanbur
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chapter 8|4 pages

Informality and the dynamics of the structure of employment

ByJames Heintz
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chapter 9|4 pages

Old and new forms of informal employment

ByUma Rani
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chapter 10|6 pages

Tax and the informal economy

Lessons from South Africa
ByImraan Valodia, David Francis
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chapter 11|5 pages

(Re)conceptualising poverty and informal employment

ByMichael Rogan, Paul Cichello
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part Part IV|18 pages

Labour law and the informal economy

chapter 12|5 pages

Revising labour law for work

ByJudy Fudge
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chapter 13|6 pages

Domestic workers and informality

Challenging invisibility, regulating inclusion
ByAdelle Blackett
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chapter 14|5 pages

Enforcement of labour standards in developing countries

Challenges and solutions
ByMichael J. Piore
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part Part V|20 pages

Urban planning and design

chapter 15|9 pages

The informal economy in urban Africa

Challenging planning theory and praxis
ByCaroline Skinner, Vanessa Watson
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chapter 16|4 pages

Urban design

Imaginations beyond architecture
ByRahul Mehrotra
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chapter 17|5 pages

Informality, housing and work

The view from Indian cities
ByGautam Bhan
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part Part VI|18 pages


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chapter 19|8 pages

Extending labour standards to informal workers at the base of global garment value chains

New institutions in the labour market
ByMeenu Tewari
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part Part VII|20 pages

Street vendors

chapter 20|6 pages

Street vendors and planning paradigms

ByAmin Y. Kamete
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chapter 21|6 pages

Street vending and the state

Challenging theory, changing research
ByVeronica Crossa
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chapter 22|6 pages

Street vendors and regulations

BySally Roever
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part Part VIII|22 pages

Waste pickers

chapter 23|8 pages

Waste pickers and their right to the city

Dispossession and displacement in nineteenth-century Paris and contemporary Montevideo
ByLucía Fernandez
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chapter 24|6 pages

Managing urban waste as a common pool resource

ByJérémie Cavé
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chapter 25|6 pages

The political work of waste picker integration

ByMelanie Samson
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part Part IX|30 pages

Social policy and informal workers

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chapter 27|5 pages

Social protection and informal workers

Rethinking the terms of inclusion
ByLaura Alfers
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chapter 28|6 pages

Social protection for women informal workers

Perspectives from Latin America
BySilke Staab
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chapter 29|5 pages

Informal workers in a context of urbanisation and migration

Reflections from China for social policy in Asia
BySarah Cook
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chapter 30|5 pages

Realising employer liability for informal workers

Lessons from India
ByKamala Sankaran
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part Part X|26 pages

Informal workers and the state

chapter 31|6 pages

Deciphering African informal economies

ByKate Meagher
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chapter 32|7 pages

Informal workers and the state in India

ByRina Agarwala
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chapter 33|5 pages

Informal domestic workers, informal construction workers and the state

What prospects for improving labour standards?
ByChris Tilly
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chapter 34|6 pages

Waste & Citizenship Forum

Waste pickers and the state in Brazil
BySonia Dias
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chapter |12 pages


ByMartha Chen, Françoise Carré, Sally Roever
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