This paper illustrates the limitations of official statistics on the informal sector with the case of homebased women workers: this is, women who work from their homes as own-account producers or subcontract workers. After noting that official statistics in most countries do not classify homebased subcontract work as such, the authors review the available data on both types of homebased work. The available evidence suggests that homebased work is an important source of employment throughout the world, especially for women, and that homebased workers comprise a significant share of the workforce in key export industries. The evidence also shows that the informal sector often has direct ties to the formal sector and is growth-promoting. The case of homebased workers, the authors conclude, illustrates the need for improved informal sector statistics as well as a better understanding of the impact of policies on the informal sector and the contribution of the informal sector to national economies.


Chen, Martha, Jennefer Sebstad, and Lesley O'Connell. "Counting the Invisible Workforce: The Case of Homebased Workers." World Development 27.3 (March 1999): 603-610.