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Linking the Formal and Informal EconomyConcepts and Policies$
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Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis, Ravi Kanbur, and Elinor Ostrom

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199204762

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199204764.001.0001

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The relevance of the concepts of formality and informality: a theoretical appraisal

The relevance of the concepts of formality and informality: a theoretical appraisal

Chapter:
(p.58) 4 The relevance of the concepts of formality and informality: a theoretical appraisal
Source:
Linking the Formal and Informal Economy
Author(s):

Alice Sindzingre

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199204764.003.0004

The concept of informality has encompassed an increasing number of meanings; referred to highly heterogeneous phenomena and measurement methods; and has been explored by development microeconomics (informal contracts) and institutional economics (informal institutions). This plurality of meanings and instruments calls into question the concept’s validity. This paper synthesizes the critical issues within both a development economics and an institutional economics perspective. First to be examined are the conceptual problems inherent in the concept of informality, especially its inconsistencies and the heterogeneity of the phenomena and measurement. The concept is then analysed according to an institutionalist perspective. A more relevant distinction than the formal-informal one is proposed, which relies on an alternative theory of institutions and different distinctions, particularly between the forms, contents, and meanings of institutions.

Keywords:   informality, institutions, social norms, development, institutional economics

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