A Short Reading List on Economic Informality

By | April 9, 2014

A couple of days ago on Twitter I promised to do a short reading list on economic informality. Here goes:

The work that introduced the concept of informal economy:  

Hart, K. (1973). Informal Income Opportunities and Urban Employment in Ghana. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 11(1), 61–89.

See also, Leys, C. (1973). Interpreting African Underdevelopment: Reflections on the ILO Report on Employment, Incomes and Equality in Kenya. African Affairs, 72(289), 419–429

If we must quantify: 

Feige, E. L. (1990). Defining and Estimating Underground and Informal Economies: The new Institutional Economics Approach. World Development, 18(7), 989–1002.

Smith, J. D. (1985). Market Motives in the Informal Economy. In P. D. W. Gaertner & P. D. A. Wenig (Eds.), The Economics of the Shadow Economy (pp. 161–177). Springer: Berlin Heidelberg.

Nkendah, R. (2013). Estimating the informal cross-border trade of agricultural and horticultural commodities between cameroon and its CEMAC neighbours. Food Policy, 41, 133–144.

Loayza, N. V. (1996). The economics of the informal sector: a simple model and some empirical evidence from Latin America. Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, 45, 129–162.

Thießen, U. (1997). The informal economy in eastern Europe: The example of the Ukraine. Economic Bulletin34(6), 19–24.


Gërxhani, K. (2004). The Informal Sector in Developed and Less Developed Countries: A Literature Survey. Public Choice, 120(3), 267–300.

Castells, M., & Portes, A. (1989). World Underneath: The Origins, Dynamics, and Effects of the Informal Economy. In M. Castells, A. Portes, & L. A. Benton (Eds.), (pp. 11–37). Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Economic anthropology/economic & rural sociology/political economy:

Smith, M. E. (1989). The Informal Economy. In S. Plattner (Ed.), Economic Anthropology (pp. 292–317). Stanford: Stanford University Press

Roitman, J. L. (1990). The Politics of Informal Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 28(4), 671–696.

Pohit, S., & Taneja, N. (2003). Indias Informal Trade with Bangladesh: A Qualitative Assessment. The World Economy, 26, 1187–1214.

Guyer, J. I., & Obukhova, E. (2002). Transcending the Formal/Informal DIstinctino: Commercial Relations in Africa and Russia in the Post 1989 World. In J. Ensminger (Ed.), (pp. 199–220). Walnut Creek: Altamira.

Hart, K. (2006). Bureaucratic form and the informal economy. In R. K. a. E. O. Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis (Ed.), (pp. 21–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Klein, A. (1999). The Barracuda’s Tale: Trawlers, the Informal Sector and a State of Classificatory Disorder off the Nigerian Coast. Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 69(4), 555–574.

Onokerhoraye, A. G. (1977). Occupational Specialization by Ethnic Groups in the Informal Sector of the Urban Economies of Traditional Nigerian Cities: The Case of Benin. African Studies Review, 20(1), 53–69.

Neef, R. (2002). Aspects of the Informal Economy in a Transforming Country: The Case of Romania. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 26(2), 299–322.

Williams, C. C., Round, J., & Rodgers, P. (2007). Beyond the formal/informal economy binary hierarchy. International Journal of Social Economics, 34(6), 402–414.


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