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Informal sector versus informal contracts in Nairobi, Kenya

Listed author(s):
  • Philippe Bocquier


    (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

(english) From official records, it would appear that the labour market significantly shifted from the formal to the informal sector in Kenya. However, a careful examination of different data sources for Nairobi show that in the 1990s there has been no direct transfer of employment from the formal sector to supposedly flourishing informal enterprises, but rather an increasing number of employees informally contracted by formal enterprises to the expense of social and legal protection of employees. Seven out of eight jobs in Nairobi still depend on the formal sector, through either formal or informal contracts. Although migrants form more than three quarters of the active population in Nairobi, migration has not had a specific impact on the labour market structure and evolution. However, Nairobi became less attractive to active male migrants during the 1990s as unemployment and lack of opportunity in the formal sector deterred candidates from in-migrating. The Nairobi labour market also became more discriminative against women, whose chance to enter and to remain in the labour market reduced considerably. In the 1990s the combination of higher unemployment, lower female participation rate and reduced migration of males in active ages resulted in higher dependency on the workforce and in doubling the absolute poverty in Nairobi. _________________________________ (français) D’après les sources officielles, il pourrait sembler que le marché du travail au Kenya a basculé sensiblement du secteur formel vers le secteur informel. Cependant, un examen attentif des différentes sources de données sur Nairobi montre que dans les années 1990 il n’y a pas eu de transfert direct des emplois du secteur formel vers les entreprises informelles supposées en pleine expansion. Au contraire, un nombre croissant d’employés est informellement contracté par les entreprises formelles au détriment de la protection sociale et légale de ces employés. Sept emplois sur huit à Nairobi dépendent du secteur formel, au travers de contrats formels ou informels. Bien que les migrants forment les trois quarts de la population active à Nairobi, la migration n’a pas eu un impact spécifique sur la structure et l’évolution du marché de l’emploi. Cependant, Nairobi attire dans les années 1990 moins de jeunes hommes actifs, du fait que le chômage et le manque d’opportunités dans le secteur formel a dissuadé les candidats à l’immigration. Le marché de l’emploi à Nairobi est aussi devenu plus discriminatoire envers les femmes, dont les chances d’entrer et de se maintenir sur le marché de l’emploi se sont réduites considérablement. Dans les années 1990, la combinaison d’un chômage en hausse, d’un taux d’activité féminine plus bas et d’un ralentissement de la migration masculine aux âges actifs a eu pour résultat une augmentation du taux de dépendance et un doublement de la pauvreté absolue à Nairobi.

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Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2005/10.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2005
Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200510
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