The Urban Informal Economy

Enhanced knowledge, appropriate policies and effective organization

Authored by: Martha Chen , Caroline Skinner

The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415818650
eBook ISBN: 9780203387832
Adobe ISBN: 9781136678202


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Understanding urban informal employment is critical to designing urban plans and policies to reduce urban poverty. Despite predictions to the contrary, recent urbanization in many countries has been neither driven nor accompanied by industrialization. Indeed, in some countries, cities are deindustrializing. The net result is that the majority of urban workers in developing countries earn their livelihoods in the informal economy. Meanwhile, urban renewal schemes in many cities around the world are actively destroying urban informal livelihoods. Practices that exclude informal workers from participating in cities are the norm in many parts of the world. There are daily reports of slum and street vendor evictions and also everyday forms of harassment of informal workers. In brief, urban informal livelihoods are under threat and deserve more focused attention from urban scholars and practitioners.

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