The Informal Sector Debate in Latin America

Edited by Cathy A. Rakowski

Subjects: Rural Sociology
Series: SUNY series in Power and Political Economy
Paperback : 9780791419069, 336 pages, July 1994
Hardcover : 9780791419052, 336 pages, July 1994

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Table of contents



I: Overview

1. Introduction: What Debate?
Cathy A. Rakowski

2. The Informal Sector Debate, Part 1: 1970-1983
Caroline O. N. Moser

3. The Informal Sector Debate, Part 2: 1984-1993
Cathy A. Rakowski

4. The Many Roles of the Informal Sector in Development: Evidence from Urban Labor Market Research, 1940-1989
Orlandina de Oliveira and Bryan Roberts

II: Macro Level Policy Issues

5. The Impact of Government Policies on Microenterprise Development: Conclusions from Empirical Studies
Carl Liedholm

6. Macroeconomic Policy and the Informal Sector
Jeffrey R. Franks

7. When More Can Be Less: Labor Standards, Development, and the Informal Economy
Alejandro Portes

8. Informality, de Soto Style: From Concept to Policy
Ray Bromley

9. Inside Informal Sector Policies in Latin America: An Economist's View
Gustavo Marquez

III: Micro Level Intervention Issues

10. The Role of Governments and Private Institutions in Addressing the Informal Sector in Latin America
Maria Otero

11. Training and Technical Assistance for Small and Microenterprise: A Discussion of Their Effectiveness
Cressida S. McKean

IV: A Closer Look at Poverty, Planning, and Power

12. Informality and Poverty: Causal Relationship or Coincidence?
Vanessa Cartaya

13. Transaction Costs, Formal Plans, and Formal Informality: Alternatives to the Informal "Sector"
J. Douglas Uzzell

V: Conclusion

14. Contrapunto: Policy, Research, and the Role of the State
Cathy A. Rakowski



Author Index

Subject Index


The informal sector denotes the small-scale, unprotected, and loosely regulated activities and self-employment that proliferate in developing countries. This book is about the people who engage in informal activities and the people who study, interpret, intervene in, promote, or attempt to repress or regulate the sector. The authors bring together and evaluate for the first time competing theories, policies, and research findings on the informal sector, dealing with issues of power, ideology, and politics; basic research, applied research, program evaluation, and policymaking; exploitation, entrepreneurship, and opportunity; and poverty and the accumulation of wealth.

Cathy A. Rakowski teaches in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and the Center for Women's Studies at The Ohio State University.


"Contrapunto is a state-of-the-art treatment of informal activity in Latin America and, therefore, is a critical contribution to the literature. The authors are clearly among the most informed and insightful researchers and practitioners involved with informal activity in Latin America. " — Thomas Klak, Miami University

"This is an important and necessary contribution to the field. It will surely become a valuable text in some courses and a required or reference work for many more. " — Irene Tinker, University of California, Berkeley

"This book provides access to the subject matter that no other book available does, and it should be of great interest to many academics and practitioners. "— Henry Dietz, University of Texas, Austin