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A Brief History of 50 Years of Conceptualisation and Measurement of the Informal Economy

  • Jacques Charmes
Chapter
Part of the Demographic Transformation and Socio-Economic Development book series (DTSD, volume 10)

Abstract

There is now nearly half a century that the first attempts of definition and data collection on informal sector and informal employment on a large scale were launched in the early 1970s. Despite international efforts for defining and harmonising the concepts, there still remains much ambiguity and confusion among scholars and policymakers about the real meaning and content of what is called the informal economy. Since the early economists and social scientists who laid the foundations of the concept and up to the statistical definitions by labour statisticians and national accountants that paved the way for comparative data collection over time and across countries, an overview is provided of the most current and widely recognised definitions of the concept and of its major components (microbusinesses of the informal sector, informal jobs in the formal sector, domestic workers in the households), the methods of data collection as well as the reasons why the informal economy must not be confused with the underground, shadow or illegal economy.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacques Charmes
    • 1
  1. 1.IRD University of Paris DescartesParisFrance

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