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Linking the Formal and Informal EconomyConcepts and Policies$
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Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis, Ravi Kanbur, and Elinor Ostrom

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199204762

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199204764.001.0001

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Beyond formality and informality

Beyond formality and informality

(p.1) 1 Beyond formality and informality
Linking the Formal and Informal Economy

Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis (Contributor Webpage)

Ravi Kanbur (Contributor Webpage)

Elinor Ostrom (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The usefulness of the formal-informal dichotomy has constantly been debated in the field of economics, leading to a reconsideration of the conceptual and empirical basis of the formal-informal divide, and the assessment of its policy implications. It is argued that the tendency to associate ‘informal’ with ‘unstructured’ and ‘chaotic’ must end. Such an association is conceptually unsound and has led to policy disasters as the state sought to provide ‘structures’ where none was presumed to exist before. Instead, the terminology of informal-formal can be used to characterize a continuum of the reach of official intervention in different economic activities, especially since official statistics already use variants of such a criterion. However, it is emphasized that ‘more’ or ‘less’ reach is not necessarily ‘better’ or ‘worse’.

Keywords:   dichotomy, policy, structure, development, continuum

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