Home-based workers produce goods or services for the market from within or around their own homes: stitching garments and weaving textiles; producing craft products; processing and preparing food items; assembling or packaging electronics, automobile parts, and pharmaceutical products; selling goods or providing services (laundry, hair-cutting, beautician services); or doing clerical or professional work; among other activities. Although they remain largely invisible, home-based workers are engaged in many branches of industry and represent a significant share of urban employment in some countries, particularly for women and especially in Asia. Home-based workers are one of three urban informal occupational groups – together with street vendors and waste pickers – who are the focus of a 10-city study. The Informal Economy Monitoring Study aims to provide credible, grounded evidence of the range of driving forces, both positive and negative, that affect conditions of home-based work, street vending and waste picking; the responses of informal workers to these driving forces; and the institutions which help or hinder their responses. IEMS uses both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative component consists of a set of focus group tools designed to capture systematically the perceptions and understandings of 75 informal workers (per city), in their own words, in focus group settings. The quantitative component consists of a survey administered to the focus group participants plus another approximately 75 workers who did not participate in focus groups. A total of 447 home-based workers participated in the study. They live in three cities: Ahmedabad, India; Bangkok, Thailand; and Lahore, Pakistan.


Chen, Martha. "Informal Economy Monitoring Study Sector Report: Home-Based Workers." Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, April 2014.