IARIW 2009 Special Conference on Measuring the Informal Economy in Developing Countries, Kathmandhu, Nepal, September 23–26, 2009 Final Program

In most developing countries most people depend for their livelihood on the “informal economy”. Their incomes come from subsistence farming or from operating small unincorporated enterprises. They may be trading on the street or in markets, selling cooked food from kiosks, scavenging for reusable waste, transporting people or goods by pedal power or motor bikes, repairing clothes, shoes or motor scooters, building dwellings or adding extensions to them, or providing a range of personal services like hair-dressing, fortune-tFelling, shoe-cleaning, street theatre, house cleaning and the like. Although the largest part of GDP may be generated in the formal economy, most people in developing countries live in the informal one.

This Special IARIW Conference looks at both economic and social aspects of the informal economy. How large is it in terms of employment and output, where do families in the informal economy stand in the overall income distribution, what access do they have to government education and health services, how are they served by non-profit institutions, how do they cope with food shortages and price hikes of basic foodstuffs, and what government policies may be helpful or harmful in promoting the welfare of those who live in the informal economy?

By its nature the informal economy is difficult to measure. Informal enterprises are not usually listed in the statistical registers used for official surveys so that indirect methods have to be used to estimate their contribution to value added, output and employment. Measuring the informal economy is therefore one of the main themes of the Special Conference. But measurement is only useful if it serves the needs of policy makers and the conference will also consider the more basic questions of what needs to be measured and how measuring the wrong things may lead to bad policy-making.

All sessions are at the Godavari Village Resort unless otherwise noted

Day 1, September 23

Session 1 (Plenary)


Opening Ceremony and Objectives of the Conference

Hotel Yak and Yeti

Welcome Remarks – Bishnu D. Pant, Director, CEAS on behalf of the South Asian Institute of Management (SIAM) & Andrea Brandolini, IARIW Chair

Opening Address – the Rt. Honorable Dr. Ram Baran Yadav, President of Nepal

Opening Remarks – Dr. Prakash Lohani, Chairman, SAIM Board

Vote of Thanks- Dr. Bijay KC, Dean, SAIM.

High Tea


Day 2, September 24

Session 2 (Plenary)


Keynote Address

Value Added Taxes, Chain Effects and Informality

Aureo de Paula, University of Pennsylvania, USA. Questions and discussion



Session 3 (Plenary)


Case Studies of the Informal Sector

Chair: Andrea Brandolini, Banca d’Italia

Accounting for Self-Employed Workers in the Informal Services Sector: Insights from the Cycle Rickshaw Rental Market in a City in Central India (Abstract)

  • Ashima Sood, Cornell University, USA

Barriers of Entry and Capital Returns in Informal Activities: Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa (Abstract)

  • Michael Grimm, Institute for Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands
  • Jens Krüger, University of Goettingen, Germany
  • Jann Lay, University of Goettingen, Germany

Shadow Sorting (Abstract)

  • Tito Boeri, Universita di Bocconi, Italy
  • Pietro Garibaldi, Universita di Torino, Italy

Discussants: Giovanni Veronese (Italian Embassy in India) and Panos Tsakloglou (Athens University of Economics and Business)



Session 4a (Parallel)


Defining the Informal Sector (1)

Chair: Pronab Sen, Central Statistical Organisation, India

Revealed Informal Activity (Abstract) (PowerPoint)

  • Ralitza Dimova, Brunel University, UK
  • Ira N. Gang Rutgers University, USA
  • John Landon-Lane Rutgers University, USA

The 1-2 Survey Methodology: A Data Collection Strategy for Informal Sector & Informal Employment Statistics

  • Sharita Serrao, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), Statistics Division

Delhi Group on Informal Sector – Contribution and Present Status (Abstract)

  • Dr. Pronab Sen and Ramesh Kolli, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, India

Discussants: TBA

Session 4b (Parallel)


Wages and Informal Employment

Chair: Matthew Powell, Oxford Policy Management, UK

Informality and Minimum Wage: Evidence for Colombia (Abstract)

  • Jhon James Mora R. ICESI University, Colombia

How Does Decentralised Minimum-Wage Setting Affect Informality? A Quasi-Natural Experiment for Indonesia (Abstract)

  • Margherita Comola Paris School of Economics
  • Luiz de Mello OECD Economics Department, Paris

The Informal Wage Gap: New Evidence Using Panel Data (Abstract)

  • Olivier Bargain, Prudence Kwenda, University College, Dublin

Discussants: Seth Omondi Gor (University of Nairobi, Kenya) and TBA



Session 5a (Parallel)


Defining the Informal Sector (2)

Chair: Chellam Palanyandi, Asian Development Bank

Informal Sector and Informal Employment in Brazil: Analysis of Results of New System of National Account Series (2000/2006) (Abstract) (PowerPoint)

  • João Hallak Neto; Katia Namir; Luciene Rodrigues Kozovits, Instituto Brasileiro de Geograhia e Estatisgticas – IBGE, Rio de Janeiro

On Measuring Informal Sector – Conceptual and Estimation Issues (Abstract)

  • A.C. Kulshreshtha, Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific, Japan (retired)

Informal Sector In India (Abstract) (PowerPoint)

  • Ajaya Kumar Naik, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Discussants: Adriaan Bloem, (International Monetary Fund, retired) and Ramesh Kolli (Central Statistical Organisation, India)

Session 5b (Parallel)


Labour, Employment and Occupations

Chair: Andrew Sharpe (IARIW, Centre for the Study of Living Standards)

The Remains of Informality: Social Networks and Wages in Senegal’s Formal Sector (Abstract) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • Nicoletta Berardi, Toulouse School of Economics, France

Measurement of Informal Employment and the Informal Sector Using Available Surveys: Palestinian Case Study (Abstract) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • Saleh Al-Kafri, Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics
  • Suha Kan’an, Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics

Discussants: Nicoletta Berardi (Toulouse School of Economics, France), Derek Blades (OECD)

Day 3, September 25

Session 6 (Plenary)


Poverty and Income Distribution

Chair: Bishnu Pant, (SIAM)

Are All Migrants Really Worse Off in Urban Labour Markets? New Empirical Evidence from China (Abstract)

  • Jason Gagnon, Theodora Xenogiani, OECD Paris
  • Chunbing Xing, Beijing Normal University, Peoples’ Republic of China

Industrial Structure, Nature of Informal Enterprise and Inequality in Kenya: a Dominance Test Perspective (Abstract)

  • Seth Omondi Gor, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Labour Informality In Latin America: Poverty and Vulnerability (Abstract) (Discussion)

  • Roxana Maurizio, Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina

Indian Informal Sector Labour Market: The Formalizing Problems

  • V. Nirmala, Pondicherry University, India

Discussants: Aureo de Paula (University of Pennsylvania, USA) and Panos Tsakloglou (Athens University of Economics and Business)



Session 7 (Plenary)


The Informal Sector in Nepal

Chair: Yubaraj Khatiwada, National Planning Commission, Nepal

Socio-Economic Determinants of Income Generation in the Informal Sector of Nepal – A Case of Chitwan District (Abstract) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • Manoj Kumar Agarwal, University of Lucknow, India
  • Ram Chandra Dhakal, Tribhuwan University, Nepal

Measuring Informal Economic Activities in Nepal: Problems and Issues (Abstract) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • Rudra Suwal, Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal
  • Bishnu Pant, Asian Development Bank (Retired)

Comparative Analysis of Problems Encountered by Informal Sector Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Pakistan and Sri Lanka – Lessons for Nepal (Abstract) (Presentation PowerPoint) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • S.W.S.B. Dasanayaka, University of Maratuwa, Sri Lanka

Discussants: Andrea Brandolini (Banca d’Italia, Italy) and Derek Blades (OECD)



Session 8a (Parallel)


Size and Growth of the Informal Sector

Chair: Rudra Suwal, Central Statistical Office, Nepal

Informal Sector in India: Contribution, Growth and Efficiency (Abstract)

  • Indrajit Bairagya, Institute for Economic and Social Change, Bangalore, India

Contribution of Informal Economy for First Demographic Dividend: Evidence and Implications for India(Abstract)

  • M.R. Narayana, Institute for Economic and Social Change, Bangalore, India

Discussants: Devendra Chettri and Derek Blades (OECD)

Session 8b (Parallel)


Measurement Issues

Chair: Manik Shreshtha, International Monetary Fund

Informal Economy in National Accounts of Russia (Abstract) (PowerPoint)

  • Natalia Ustinova, Federal State Statistics Service of Russian Federation (Rosstat), Moscow

Measuring the Retail Sector in the National Accounts (Abstract)

  • Ramesh Kolli, Central Statistical Organisation, India

Dissection of the Informal Sector: Measurement of Characteristics of the Informal Sector and its Connections with the Rest of the Economy (Abstract)

  • Lourdes Ferran, Universidad Central de Venezuela
  • Luis Guerrero, Banco Central de Venezuela

Surveys of Informal Sector Enterprises – Some Measurement Issues (Abstract) (PowerPoint)

  • Kaushal Joshi, Rana Hasan, Asian Development Bank, Manila
  • Rana Hasan, Rana Hasan, Asian Development Bank, Manila
  • Glenita Amoranto, Rana Hasan, Asian Development Bank, Manila

Discussants: Adriaan Bloem, (International Monetary Fund, retired), A.C. Kulshreshtha, (Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific, Japan, retired), and Ramesh Kolli (Central Statistical Organisation, India)



Session 9a (Parallel)


Non Profit Institutions and Safety Nets

Chair: A.C. Kulshreshtha (Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific)

NGOs and NPISHs in Health Sector-Possibilities and Policy Options-An Expository Study in the Indian Context (Abstract) (Discussion PowerPoint)

  • Mathew, P.M. Christ University, Bangalore, India

Putting Civil Society on the Economic Map of the World (Abstract)

  • Lester M. Salamon, Johns Hopkins University, USA

A Study on Non Profit Institutions in India – Some Findings (Abstract)

  • Central Statistical Organisation, India

Discussants: M R Narayana (Institute for Economic and Social Change), Mathew Powell (Oxford Policy Management) and Chellam Palanyandi (Asian Development Bank)

Session 9b (Parallel)


Structural Change in the Informal Sector

Chair: Derek Blades, OECD (Retired)

Few Opportunities, Much Desperation: The Dichotomy of Non-agricultural Activities and Inequality in Western Kenya

  • Jann Lay, University of Goettingen, Germany
  • George Michuki M’Mukaria, Institute for Development Studies, Kenya,
  • Toman Omar Mahmoud, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany

Structural Transformation in China and India: the Role of Macroeconomic Policies (Abstract) (Presentation) (Long-Run Dynamics)

  • Codrina Rada, University of Utah, USA

Measuring Entrepreneurs’ Social Networks and Their Economic Impact in the African Informal Economy (Abstract)

  • Jean-Philippe Berrou, François Combarnous, Université de Bordeaux

Discussants: Tito Boeri (Universita di Bocconi, Italy) and Pronab Sen (Central Statistical Organisation, India)

Closing Ceremony


Dinner and Entertainment

Dwarika’s Krisnarpan restaurant


Day 4, September 26