Not available in 2022/23
DV533 Half Unit
The Informal Economy and Development
This information is for the 2022/23 session.
Dr Kate Meagher CON 7.11
This course is available on the MRes/PhD in International Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.
The course is only available to research students in other departments with permission from the course convener (space permitting).
The expansion of the informal economy, which now employs more than 60% of the world’s workers, represents a central paradox of contemporary economic development. COVID-19 has further exposed the pervasive role of informal employment across the globe. Practitioners, policy makers and academics seek a clearer understanding of its impact on poverty, employment, governance and inclusive development. In a globalising environment, are large informal economies a poverty trap or an engine of growth? Do they stimulate entrepreneurship and popular empowerment, or promote criminality and exploitation? How does a greater understanding of the size and organization of informal economies affect policy on urban service provision, social protection or taxation? What are the implications of the informal economy for social cohesion and popular politics in developing countries?
This course will explore how high levels of informality in developing countries are shaping processes of growth and governance in the Global South. The effect of informality on new policy narratives of inclusive growth will be a central theme in the course. Using a comparative institutional approach, we will examine informal economies in a range of regional contexts, including Africa, the Middle East, South and East Asia, and Latin America, highlighting variations in activities, relations with the state, global integration and development outcomes. Key issues covered in the course include the impact of the informal economy on labour markets, weak states, gender empowerment, urban services, social enterprise, social protection, taxation, and popular politics. Attention will be focused on the potential as well as risks of large informal economies in the face of contemporary development challenges, drawing on empirical evidence and comparative case studies from across the developing world.
This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars in the LT. Seminars will be at or upwards of 45 minutes duration and lectures will be at or above 60 minutes duration.
Student on this course will have a reading week in Week 6.
Formative coursework will involve a 2,000 word essay during the term and at least one presentation.
1. Portes, Alejandro, Manuel Castells and Lauren A. Benton, eds. (1989) The Informal Economy: Studies in Advanced and Less Developed Countries. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.
2. Perry et al. (2007) Informality: Exit and Exclusion, World Bank (available on Google Books).
3. ILO (2018) Women and men in the informal economy: a statistical picture (third edition) / International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO.
4. Breman, J. (2013). At work in the informal economy of India: a perspective from the bottom up. OUP Catalogue.
5. Chen, M., & Carré, F. (2020). The Informal Economy Revisited: Examining the Past, Envisioning the Future (p. 326). Taylor & Francis.
6. Cooper, Neil and Michael Pugh, with Jonathan Goodhand (2004) War Economies in a Regional Context: The Challenges of Transformation. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
7. Fernandez-Kelly, P. and J. Shefner, eds. (2006) Out of the Shadows: Political Action and the Informal Economy in Latin America. Philadelphia: Penn State University Press.
8. Kabeer, Naila (2008) Mainstreaming Gender in Social Protection for the Informal Economy. London: Commonwealth Secretariat.
9. Kinyanjui, Mary Njeri (2014) Women in the Informal Economy in Urban Africa: From the Margins to the Centre. London: Zed Books.
10. Kraemer-Mbula, E., and Wunsch-Vincent, S. eds.(2016) The Informal Economy in Developing Nations: Hidden Engine of Innovation? Cambridge UP.
11. Kuruvilla, S., Lee, C. K., & Gallagher, M. (2011). From iron rice bowl to informalization: Markets, workers, and the state in a changing China. Cornell University Press.
12. Levy, Santiago (2008) Good Intentions, Bad Outcomes: Social Policy, Informality and Economic Growth in Mexico. Brookings Institution.
13. Lindell, I. (2010) Africa’s Informal Workers: Collective Agency, Alliances and Transnational Organizing in Urban Africa. London: Zed Books.
14. Meagher, K. (2010) Identity Economics: Social Networks and the Informal Economy in Nigeria, Oxford: James Currey.
Essay (100%, 5000 words) in the ST.
Department: International Development
Total students 2021/22: Unavailable
Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable
Lecture capture used 2021/22: Yes (LT)
Value: Half Unit
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Personal development skills
- Problem solving
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