Informality remains widespread in South Asia. Being associated with low earnings and high vulnerability, informality is a major development issue. Yet, there is no consensus on its causes and consequences, with the debate polarized between a view that informality is a problem of regulatory evasion and should be eradicated, and another which equates informality with economic exclusion, blaming a small group of privileged insiders as the main cause for the backwardness of the informal outsiders. 

In their recent volume, “Informal Labor Markets in South Asia,” World Bank Economists  Maurizio Bussolo and Siddharth Sharma clarify that there are different types of informality, with different drivers and consequences. Using this approach, the papers in this volume revisit old questions about the relationship of informality to regulation and taxation, and pose new ones, such as how digital technologies and multi-faceted policy designs can improve prospects in the informal sector. Rather than trying to identify a single major driver of informality and its associated silver bullet policy remedy, this volume presents new evidence on the heterogeneity of informality in South Asia and offers a guide to policy making by discussing how the effectiveness of interventions (taxation, education, investment) is affected by this heterogeneity. 

Carnegie India is delighted to invite you to the next edition of the Political Economy Seminar on “Informal Labor Markets in South Asia” in a hybrid format. The seminar will have Maurizio Bussolo and Siddharth Sharma present their volume and its findings, followed by a Q&A with the audience. The discussion will be moderated by Anirudh Burman. 

To submit a question for the event, please email carnegieindia@ceip.org. Participants may also submit their questions through the Q&A box in the Zoom webinar or the comments section of our YouTube livestream.