Leaving no one behind


The OECD Development Centre’s work on social Protection & the Informal Economy

Many millions of people worldwide work without papers.

They don’t have social protection. They enjoy fewer rights. They have less access to training. These so-called “informal” workers make up 60% of the global workforce. They live highly vulnerable lives and are often left behind.

Policy makers have long known that promoting development means understanding the informal economy. Economies with high levels of informality tend to be more unequal, less productive and generate lower tax revenues. However, policy makers have lacked the data and evidence they need to be able take informal workers into account and find ways to integrate them into the formal economy.

The OECD Development Centre recognised this challenge early on. In 2009, its seminal Is Informal Normal? report helped put informality on the international agenda. In 2016, it became a founding member of the USP2030 partnership to promote universal social protection. Launched in 2020, its Policy Dialogue on Social Protection and Development helps policy makers from all continents learn from one another. The Centre has also worked with specific governments: its 2017 Review of Youth Well-being included advice and indicators that Peru’s Ministry of Education has used to design and monitor its National Youth Strategy.

In 2021, the Centre launched a groundbreaking new dataset that will help change people’s lives. Known as KIIbIH and covering 42 countries, the Key Indicators of Informality provide a clearer picture than ever before of how informality affects individuals and their households. Policy makers in countries like Senegal will be able to adapt their programmes to the needs of specific groups, like rural youth. Partners like the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) will have powerful data to inform their operational strategies.

Looking ahead, the challenges remain immense. Millions of workers today remain outside of the system. They have suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. They are also highly vulnerable to the looming climate crisis and environmental depletion. Policy makers need to find ways to protect them, support them and make sure they are not left behind in the transition to cleaner sources of energy.

As the Development Centre reflects on its 60thAnniversary, its Governing Board has already called for more evidence-based policy advice, to support more cohesive societies. Promoting better social protection will remain a key priority for the Centre in the years ahead.

This is Development We Can Do Together.


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