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Women, Informal Employment, and Social Protection in Latin America


  • Barrientos, Armando


The paper presents an overview of the situation of women in informal employment in Latin America and their access to social protection, and examines key public policy issues in extending social protection to this group. Informal employment has risen in Latin America in the last two decades. This is a product of economic crises, labour market liberalisation, and welfare reforms. There is an important gender dimension to informality. Women are over-represented in informal employment, and they are also over-represented in lower paid and precarious occupational groups within informal employment. As social protection entitlements in the region are largely dependent on employment status, women in informal employment are often excluded from formal social protection programmes. Reform of labour market institutions and social protection programmes is needed to extend social protection to this group. Integrated policy interventions aimed at supporting women's life course decisions could have an important effect in reducing their over-representation in informal employment.

Suggested Citation

  • Barrientos, Armando, 2002. "Women, Informal Employment, and Social Protection in Latin America," General Discussion Papers 30557, University of Manchester, Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM).
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:idpmgd:30557

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Funkhouser, Edward, 1996. "The urban informal sector in Central America: Household survey evidence," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 24(11), pages 1737-1751, November.
    2. Maloney, William F., 1998. "Are labor markets in developing countries dualistic?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1941, The World Bank.
    3. Marcouiller, Douglas & Ruiz de Castilla, Veronica & Woodruff, Christopher, 1997. "Formal Measures of the Informal-Sector Wage Gap in Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 45(2), pages 367-392, January.
    4. Eduardo Lora & Carmen Pagés, 1997. "La legislación laboral en el proceso de reformas estructurales de América Latina y el Caribe," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6216, Inter-American Development Bank.
    5. Irineu Evangelista de Carvalho Filho, 2012. "Household Income as a Determinant of Child Labor and School Enrollment in Brazil: Evidence from a Social Security Reform," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 399-435.
    6. Folster, Stefan, 1999. "Social Insurance Based on Personal Savings," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 75(228), pages 5-18, March.
    7. Smith, Paula A. & Metzger, Michael R., 1998. "The return to education: Street vendors in Mexico," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 289-296, February.
    8. Gindling, T H, 1991. "Labor Market Segmentation and the Determination of Wages in the Public, Private-Formal, and Informal Sectors in San Jose, Costa Rica," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(3), pages 584-605, April.
    9. Barrientos, Armando, 1998. "Pension reform, personal pensions and gender differences in pension coverage," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 125-137, January.
    10. Maloney, William F., 1998. "The structure of labor markets in developing countries : time series evidence on competing views," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1940, The World Bank.
    11. Weller, Jürgen, 1998. "Los mercados laborales en América Latina: su evolución en el largo plazo y sus tendencias recientes," Series Históricas 11, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL).
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    Cited by:

    1. Juan Pablo Atal & Hugo Nopo & Natalia Winder, 2009. "New Century, Old Disparities: Gender and Ethnic Wage Gaps in Latin America," Research Department Publications 4640, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Reham Rizk & Hala Abou-Ali, 2015. "Informality and Socio-Economic Well-Being of Women in Egypt," Working Papers 910, Economic Research Forum, revised May 2015.

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