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Clement, Christine
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Schriftenreihe des Promotionsschwerpunkts Globalisierung und Beschäftigung, Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. 43/2015
Central to the scientific debate about the 'informal sector' and the validity of the concept used to be a twofold challenge. The crux laid not only in the objective to explain the widely visible persistence of the informal economy in developing countries, but also in the identification of its roots and the proliferation conditions to be met ex ante. The present paper aims at establishing a link between the theories on informality and marginalization which is another important issue that has arisen within the discussions on the causes of persistent poverty a few years ago. Both concepts are interlinked and self-enforcing. On the macroeconomic level, any economy - be it formal or informal - consists of a set of different economic sectors and any of these sectors basically consists of an accumulation of people on the microeconomic level. Every time one looks at the macro level where political and economic conditions frame the dynamics of the formal and the informal economy, one has at the same time to look at the micro-level where the social and economic conditions determine the incentives for every actor to participate either in the formal, the informal or in both economies. Informality has multiple sources depending on whether the agent took a voluntary choice or had to involuntary opt-out from an institutional system. In this paper, the connection between informality and involuntary exclusion shall be examined in a retrospective of economic thought since the 1940s. The roots of the intertwined concepts of informality and economic exclusion have been laid in the dual economy theories of the 1940s-1950s. Recapitulating the works of Julius BOEKE, Arthur LEWIS, John HARRIS & Michael TODARO, Albert HIRSCHMAN and other socio-economists of that time, it will be argued that one of the necessary reasons for the persistence of the informal economy in developing countries is the dualism in institutional frameworks that leads to the marginalization of social groups and their subsequent exclusion from formal economic activities. By referring to the groundbreaking Africa studies of Keith HART (1971) and the INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION (1972), special emphasis will be given to the causal reciprocity between informality, marginalization and economic exclusion. The paper closes with a brief overview of current schools of thought that deal very differently with the issue of informality and economic exclusion.
economic dualism
informal sector
informal economy
economic exclusion
involuntary exclusion
traditional sector
urban rural sector
stages of development
Julius Boeke
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Document Type: 
Working Paper

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