What is it about?

The aim of this paper is to evaluate which groups of the self-employed engage in the informal economy. Until now, self-employed people participating in the informal economy have been predominantly viewed as marginalised populations such as those on a lower income and living in deprived regions (i.e., the “marginalisation thesis”). However, an alternative emergent “reinforcement thesis” conversely views the marginalised self-employed as less likely to do so. Until now, no known studies have evaluated these competing perspectives.

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Why is it important?

Using multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression analysis, the finding is that the marginalisation thesis applies when examining characteristics such as the age, marital status, tax morality, occupation and household financial circumstances of the self-employed engaged in the informal economy. However, when gender and regional variations are analysed, the reinforcement thesis is valid. When characteristics such as the urban-rural divide and educational level are analysed, no evidence is found to support either the marginalisation or reinforcement thesis.


This is the first extensive evaluation of which self-employed groups participate in the informal economy.

Professor Colin C Williams
University of Sheffield

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Self-employment, the informal economy and the marginalisation thesis, International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, April 2015, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/ijebr-10-2014-0184.
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