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The exceptional persistence of India's unorganized sector

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  • Ghani, Ejaz
  • Kerr, William R.
  • O'Connell, Stephen D.

Abstract

The transformation of India's unorganized sector is important to its modernization, growth, and attainment of regional economic equality. This paper documents several key facts about India's unorganized sector in manufacturing and services. First, the unorganized sector is large, accounting for more than 99 percent of establishments and 80 percent of employment in manufacturing. Second, the unorganized sector is stubbornly persistent -- it accounted for 81 percent of manufacturing employment in 1989 and 2005. Third, this persistence is not due to particular subsets of industries or states, as most industries and states show limited change in unorganized sector employment shares. Fourth, the degree to which localized unorganized activity exists is important as it is associated with weaker production functions for manufacturing firms. Building from these facts, the paper investigates conditions promoting transformation by state-industry. Decomposition exercises find that both within and between adjustments for state-industries weakly reduce unorganized sector shares. The aggregate persistence instead comes from the covariance term, where fast-growing state-industries witness rising unorganized sector activity. Regressions quantify that growth in the organized sector by state-industry reduces the unorganized sector employment share, but only marginally reduces employment levels in unorganized activity. Analysis of the establishment size distribution highlights that entrepreneurship and larger organized sector plants are most important for transitions in the manufacturing sector, while small establishments play a key role in the services sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2013. "The exceptional persistence of India's unorganized sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6454, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6454
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    Cited by:

    1. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2014. "Political reservations and women's entrepreneurship in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 138-153.
    2. Ravi Kanbur, 2017. "Informality: Causes, consequences and policy responses," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 939-961, November.
    3. Nihar Shembavnekar, 2015. "Tariff Liberalisation, Labour Market Flexibility and Employment: Evidence from India," Working Paper Series 8115, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    4. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & Tewari, Ishani, 2014. "Regional diversity and inclusive growth in Indian cities," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6919, The World Bank.
    5. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2013. "Female business ownership and informal sector persistence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6612, The World Bank.
    6. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & Tewari, Ishani, 2013. "Specialization, diversity, and Indian manufacturing growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6648, The World Bank.
    7. Nihar Shembavnekar, 2018. "Did India’s economic reforms generate jobs? Essays on economic liberalisation, labour market flexibility and employment in the Indian manufacturing sector (1990-2006)," Economics PhD Theses 0917, Department of Economics, University of Sussex Business School.
    8. Matthew Embrey & Guillaume R. Frechette & Sevgi Yuksel, 2016. "Cooperation in the Finitely Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma," Working Paper Series 8616, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
    9. Nihar Shembavnekar, 2019. "Economic Reform, Labour Markets and Informal Sector Employment: Evidence from India," Economies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(2), pages 1-42, June.
    10. Ghani, Ejaz & Goswami, Arti Grover & Kerr, William R., 2013. "The golden quadrilateral highway project and urban/rural manufacturing in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6620, The World Bank.

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