A Modern Guide to the Informal Economy

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A Modern Guide to the Informal Economy

9781035349241 Edward Elgar Publishing
Colin C. Williams, Professor of Public Policy, Sheffield University Management School (SUMS), University of Sheffield, UK
Publication Date: September 2024 ISBN: 978 1 03534 924 1 Extent: 410 pp
This Modern Guide presents a comprehensive synthesis of contemporary thought on the informal economy, which, as the author demonstrates – far from being a peripheral feature of the global economy – is a system in which the majority of the global workforce are employed and which has pervasive detrimental effects. Formalising it is therefore a priority for most governments.

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This Modern Guide presents a comprehensive synthesis of contemporary thought on the informal economy, which, as the author demonstrates – far from being a peripheral feature of the global economy – is a system in which the majority of the global workforce are employed and which has pervasive detrimental effects. Formalising it is therefore a priority for most governments.

Employing theoretical and empirical methodologies, Colin C. Williams explores the latest research on methods of understanding and measuring the informal economy in its various forms, and discusses the rationale behind its participants. Its rigorous discussion of the need to shift away from solely using tools that punish the practice and towards aligning social norms with the regulations of formal institutions is complemented by a rich analysis of how jobs and enterprises across the world can be encouraged to make the transition towards formalism. Incentives, education and reform are among the strategies advocated in this Modern Guide’s compelling and lucid roadmap for the transition to formality.

An invaluable resource for policymakers involved in tax, social security and labour policies, belonging to both governments and supra-national institutions, the book will also be valuable for academics and researchers in sociology, economics and business studies, especially those with an interest in taxation, industrial relations, entrepreneurship and labour economics.
Critical Acclaim
‘Peerless and prolific, Professor Colin Williams has again produced an essential guide for anyone wanting a concise yet sophisticated introduction to contemporary issues in the “informal economy”. With admirable clarity and precision, Professor Williams deftly explains the magnitude, characteristics and drivers of the informal economy. Nuanced assessments of theoretical and policy choices inform the “roadmap” this text provides to understanding such an integral feature of the global economy. Seasoned scholars and newcomers alike will find value in Professor William’s latest contribution to this important topic,’
– Monder Ram, Aston University, UK

‘An indispensable book to understanding one of the most important policy challenges of the 21st century: how to facilitate transition from the informal to the formal economy to ensure sustainable development and decent work. Professor Williams provides an intelligent, evidence-based and well-structured critical contribution to the knowledge of both the concept of informal economy and policy options for tackling the informal economy.’
– Frédéric Lapeyre, International Labour Organization

‘Colin William’s book is a must read classic for anyone looking for an in depth understanding of the informal economy. . . the book nails the pulse of the modern informal system.’
– Anjula Gurtoo, Indian Institute of Science, India

‘This book provides an excellent bridge between academia and policymakers by offering a synthesis of the latest state of research in the field of the informal economy, presented in an easy to understand and yet a comprehensive way. Critical insights for researchers and policymakers in the field of tax administration, labour and social security policies are provided.’
– Ioana Alexandra Horodnic, ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ University of Iași, Romania

Contributors
Contents
Contents: 1. Introduction to the informal economy 1 PART I THEORETICAL AND METHODOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES 2. Evolution of theories explaining the informal economy 3. Methods for measuring the size of the informal economy PART II MAGNITUDE AND CHARACTER OF THE INFORMAL ECONOMY 4. Prevalence of the informal economy in global perspective 5. Types of work in the informal economy 6. Who participates in the different types of informal work and why? PART III POLICY APPROACHES 7. Policy options for tackling the informal economy: objectives and policy measures 8. Deterring participation in the informal economy 9. Incentives to operate in the formal economy 10. Education and awareness raising to encourage formalisation 11. Reforming formal institutions to encourage formalisation 12. Conclusions and a future roadmap for the transition to formality References Index
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