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Informal Economy

The goal of the Informal Economy project is to explore potential public policies and local actions to mitigate the impacts of the underground economy on:

• low-income workers and self-employed people,
• on employers and local businesses,
• on consumers and customers, and
• the tax system and our social infrastructure.

This includes understanding the incentives for low-income people to engage in informal work and/or the disincentives for them to work in the “above-ground” economy.

The project defines “informal workers” as workers who gain income through transactions that are undocumented, unreported, untaxed, occasionally illegal and/or unsafe.

West Neighbourhood House has engaged diverse stakeholders, including low-income informal workers in discussions exploring the intersections of the apparent growth of self-employment, precarious employment and the underground economy.

In the first phase of the project we:

• complemented the growing research on labour market restructuring with real-life cases studies;
• identify and clarify economic and social relations requiring deeper analysis and exploration;
• generate and test some policy and action ideas with the people most affected, and
• set the parameters for a potential second phase of this project (starting spring 2014) where we will engage a broader set of stakeholders in consultation with informal workers to develop and advance practical and policy-relevant strategies that improve choices and working conditions for informal workers.

Final report – Low Income Adults in the Informal Service Economy:

Final report – A Fortune Left on the Table

Final report for the first phase of the project :
Tracking the Informal Economy Phase One

Final Report for phase two of the project :
Advancing Economic Opportunities in our Local Economy Phase Two

A literature review of the project:
Informal Economy Literature Review

Phase 2 Appendix: 
Project Appendix


The Informal Economy Project was made possible by the generous support of:
Metcalf Foundation Logo