Policy highlights:

  • Informal employment has a harmful effect on underemployment levels, workers’ rights (e.g. social protection and decent working conditions), and does not lead to sustainable businesses, public revenue, or effective policies and markets (e.g. lack of access to credit and markets, which is common in informal markets, leads to low productivity). This report presents a wide range of statistics that can be used to inform labour market policies.
  • Globally, 61.2% of the world’s employed population (2 billion people) work in the informal sector. Countries with higher levels of informality score lower on the Human Development Index. Within countries, the poor are more likely to be employed in the informal economy.
  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, informal employment accounts for 85.8% of all employment. The report’s findings include that statistics informality dynamics differ according to: 1) gender (89.7% among women, 82.7% among men), 2) age (94.9% among persons between ages 15 and 24 in employment and 96.0% among persons aged 65 and older), 3) education level (94.0% of those with no education are employed informally, which drops to 88.5% for those with primary education), and 4) across sectors (97.9% of the agricultural sector in Africa is informal, industry represents 77.4% and the service sector 70.2%).
  • Recommendations for policymakers include: 1) making full, decent, productive and freely chosen employment a central goal in the national employment policy, and 2) collecting, analysing and disseminating statistics on the size and composition of the informal economy disaggregated by sex, age, workplace, and other socio-economic characteristics.
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