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The urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa: from bad to good (and back again?)

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  • Deborah Potts

Abstract

Conceptualisations of the informal sector in terms of economic dualism have a long history, as have effective challenges to those conceptualisations. These are discussed in this paper, which then examines shifts in attitudes towards the role of the urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa over recent decades, with reference to these theoretical conceptualisations and other approaches. The paper then discusses the dynamics of the sector and the changing role of the African state in promoting or discouraging it and identifies an increasingly negative trend in this respect. Finally, the paper offers a comparative perspective, from north of the Limpopo, on current debates and policy pronouncements about the 'second economy' in South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Potts, 2008. "The urban informal sector in sub-Saharan Africa: from bad to good (and back again?)," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(2), pages 151-167.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:25:y:2008:i:2:p:151-167 DOI: 10.1080/03768350802090527
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Case, Anne & Lin, I-Fen & McLanahan, Sara, 2000. "How Hungry Is the Selfish Gene?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(466), pages 781-804, October.
    2. Frances Lund, 2002. "'Crowding in' care, security and micro-enterprise formation: revisiting the role of the state in poverty reduction and in development," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., pages 681-694.
    3. Case, Anne & Deaton, Angus, 1998. "Large Cash Transfers to the Elderly in South Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(450), pages 1330-1361, September.
    4. Anne Case & Cally Ardington, 2004. "The impact of parental death on school enrollment and achievement: Longitudinal evidence from South Africa," SALDRU/CSSR Working Papers 097, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marc C. A. Wegerif & Paul Hebinck, 2016. "The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale," Agriculture, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(3), pages 1-25, August.
    2. Harris, John, 2014. "The Messy Reality of Agglomeration Economies in Urban Informality: Evidence from Nairobi’s Handicraft Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 102-113.
    3. repec:spr:manint:v:53:y:2013:i:1:d:10.1007_s11575-012-0161-0 is not listed on IDEAS

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