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The informal labour market in India : transitory or permanent employment for migrants?

  • Shonchoy, Abu S.
  • Junankar, P. N. (Raja)

The informal economy is a very important sector of the Indian economy. The National Council of Applied Economic Research estimates that the informal sector - "unorganised sector" - generates about 62% of GDP and provides for about 55% of total employment (ILO 2002, p. 14). This paper studies the characteristics of the workers in the informal economy and whether internal migrants treat this sector as a temporary location before moving on to the organised or formal sector to improve their lifetime income and living conditions. We limit our study to the Indian urban (non-agricultural) sector and study the characteristics of the household heads that belong to the informal sector (self-employed and informal wage workers) and the formal sector. We find that household heads that are less educated, come from poorer households, and/or are in lower social groups (castes and religions) are more likely to be in the informal sector. In addition, our results show strong evidence that the longer a rural migrant household head has been working in the urban sector, ceteris paribus, the more likely that individual has moved out of the informal wage sector. These results support the hypothesis that, for internal migrants, the informal wage labour market is a stepping stone to a better and more certain life in the formal sector.

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Paper provided by Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO) in its series IDE Discussion Papers with number 461.

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Date of creation: Mar 2014
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Publication status: Published in IDE Discussion Paper. No. 461. 2014.3
Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper461
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  1. Ito, Takahiro, 2009. "Caste discrimination and transaction costs in the labor market: Evidence from rural North India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 292-300, March.
  2. Klarita G�rxhani, 2004. "The Informal Sector in Developed and Less Developed Countries: A Literature Survey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 120(3_4), pages 267-300, 09.
  3. Harry J. Holzer, 1986. "Informal Job Search and Black Youth Unemployment," NBER Working Papers 1860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Randall S. Brown & Marilyn Moon & Barbara S. Zoloth, 1980. "Incorporating Occupational Attainment in Studies of Male-Female Earnings Differentials," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 15(1), pages 3-28.
  5. Rauch, James E., 1991. "Modelling the informal sector formally," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 33-47, January.
  6. Calvó-Armengol, Antoni & Zenou, Yves, 2003. "Job Matching, Social Network and Word-of-Mouth Communication," IZA Discussion Papers 771, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1978. "The Estimation of a Simultaneous Equation Generalized Probit Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(5), pages 1193-1205, September.
  8. David Mckenzie & Hillel Rapoport, 2004. "Network Effects and the Dynamics of Migration and Inequality: Theory and Evidence from Mexico," Working Papers 2004-3, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  9. John Bennett & Matthew Rablen, 2012. "Self-Employment, Wage Employment and Informality in a Developing Economy," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 12-02, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  10. Banerjee, Biswajit & Knight, J. B., 1985. "Caste discrimination in the Indian urban labour market," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(3), pages 277-307, April.
  11. David J. McKenzie & Nicole Hildebrandt, 2005. "The Effects of Migration on Child Health in Mexico," ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION, ECONOMIA JOURNAL OF THE LATIN AMERICAN AND CARIBBEAN ECONOMIC ASSOCIATION.
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