News & events


The informal economy in developing countries: measurement issues and economic challenges

09 April 2019
12:30 - 14:00

Date:    Tuesday, 9 April 2019
Time:    12:30 – 14:00
Venues: Video conference in Pretoria, Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal | Livestream by Vidyo

Speaker: François Roubaud, Senior Research Fellow, French Institute of Research for Sustainable Development (IRD), Paris & Mireille Razafindrakoto, senior researcher Respondent: Nazeem Mustapha,

HSRC Chair: Dr Glenda Kruss, HSRC

The presentation is available for download below:

Most jobs in developing countries (DCs) are found in the informal economy which plays a predominant role within the economy. Better understanding how the economies of these countries work thus requires a better knowledge of the informal sector. This knowledge is also indispensable in the fight against poverty which is at the heart of political development preoccupations. Understanding the informal sector is of utmost importance from a political, economic and social point of view. In spite of the efforts made in this domain by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over the last decades, the vagueness which continues to surround the informal economy remains a big obstacle which prevents its being taken into account in economic policies.

DIAL-IRD researchers have designed a general framework, the 1-2-3 Surveys, to address the informal sector in its multiple relationships with the rest of the economy, in terms of both employment and informal product supply and demand. The 1-2-3 Surveys adopt the mixed (household/enterprise) approach. This framework was developed in line with international recommendations and tailored to the context of different countries (in Latin America, Africa and Asia) where it was implemented. It has permitted to provide accurate statistical data and in-depth analyses on the informal sector and informal employment, on their role in the economy, as well as its actual and potential contribution to improving the population’s living conditions.

The presentation will focus on the methodological issues: the concept and the measurement challenges. Some illustrated analytical results derived from survey data collected in various developing countries will be also presented. What are the characteristics of production units in the informal sector? What are the working conditions which prevail in this sector? Which types of business are more inclined to register their activity? Working in the informal sector: is it a free choice or an obligation? What are the causes and the impacts of corruption in the informal sector?

Kindly RSVP by 8 April 2019

Pretoria: HSRC Video Conference Room, 1st floor HSRC Library, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Contact Arlene Grossberg | T: (012) 302 2811 | E:

Cape Town: HSRC Video Conference Room, Merchant House 116-118 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Contact Shouneez Khan| T: (021) 466 7948 | E:

Durban: HSRC Video Conference Room, The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001. Contact Ridhwaan Khan | T: (031) 242 5400 | C: 083 788 2786 | E:

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DST

Vidyo Link: ex.html?roomdirect.html&key=GGKGXLnInSbnn5Mspk7JfF1qu8