Informality, Inequality, and Feminization of Labor

Abstract

Using two novel datasets of the size of the informal economy and income inequality, this study provides evidence on the nexus of informality and inequality with particular attention to the feminization of labor, a phenomenon closely related to labor market informalization. Using annual cross-country panel data from 125 countries for 1963-2016, the study reveals a relationship between the size of the informal sector and income inequality, which is more likely to be negative in richer countries and positive in poor ones. It also shows that, while higher women’s labor force participation is associated with lower income inequality, this negative correlation is cancelled by the presence of an informal sector.

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