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


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part I|16 pages

The informal economy revisited

chapter 1|7 pages


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

India’s informal economy

Past, present and future
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part II|32 pages

Informal employment

chapter 3|5 pages

Advances in statistics on informal employment

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

Informal employment in developed countries

Relevance and statistical measurement
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chapter 6|10 pages

WIEGO research on informal employment

Key methods, variables and findings
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part III|26 pages

Economics and the informal economy

chapter 7|5 pages

Assessing taxation and informality

Disaggregated frameworks matter
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chapter 10|6 pages

Tax and the informal economy

Lessons from South Africa
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part IV|18 pages

Labour law and the informal economy

chapter 12|5 pages

Revising labour law for work

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chapter 13|6 pages

Domestic workers and informality

Challenging invisibility, regulating inclusion
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chapter 14|5 pages

Enforcement of labour standards in developing countries

Challenges and solutions
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part V|20 pages

Urban planning and design

chapter 15|9 pages

The informal economy in urban Africa

Challenging planning theory and praxis
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chapter 16|4 pages

Urban design

Imaginations beyond architecture
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chapter 17|5 pages

Informality, housing and work

The view from Indian cities
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part VI|18 pages


chapter 19|8 pages

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

New institutions in the labour market
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part VII|20 pages

Street vendors

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chapter 21|6 pages

Street vending and the state

Challenging theory, changing research
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chapter 22|6 pages

Street vendors and regulations

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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
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part IX|30 pages

Social policy and informal workers

chapter 27|5 pages

Social protection and informal workers

Rethinking the terms of inclusion
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chapter 28|6 pages

Social protection for women informal workers

Perspectives from Latin America
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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
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chapter 30|5 pages

Realising employer liability for informal workers

Lessons from India
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part X|26 pages

Informal workers and the state

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chapter 33|5 pages

Informal domestic workers, informal construction workers and the state

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

Waste & Citizenship Forum

Waste pickers and the state in Brazil
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