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Structural and Behavioural Characteristics of Informal Service Employment: Evidence from a Survey in New Delhi


  • Sukti Dasgupta


This article argues that at least two distinct categories within the informal sector - informal services and informal manufacturing - exhibit different structural and behavioural characteristics. While some segments of informal manufacturing may indeed be 'dynamic' as noted by some recent studies, the hypothesis is tested for the informal service employment on the basis of a survey by the author in New Delhi, India. It examines investment, earnings, returns to human capital, socio economic characteristics and scope for upward mobility of informal service employment. It finds formal education does not explain differences in earnings in the sample but background characteristics do; earnings in the informal service sector are neither the lowest in the economy nor are they comparable to wages in the urban formal unskilled sector, when differences between migrants and non-migrants are taken into account. On the basis of these results, the paper reflects on the nature of growth and structural change in the Indian economy and draws some analytical and policy implications.

Suggested Citation

  • Sukti Dasgupta, 2003. "Structural and Behavioural Characteristics of Informal Service Employment: Evidence from a Survey in New Delhi," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(3), pages 51-80.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:39:y:2003:i:3:p:51-80
    DOI: 10.1080/00220380412331322821

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    Cited by:

    1. Justin van der Sluis & Mirjam van Praag & Wim Vijverberg, 2003. "Entrepreneurship Selection and Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-046/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 24 Sep 2004.


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