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Alleviating Poverty in Nigeria through the Improvement of the Labour Conditions in the Informal Economy

A Socio-ethical Enquiry


Samuel Rapu

«Just wage and just working conditions have always occupied a central position in Catholic social ethics. The social teaching of the Catholic Church has however preoccupied itself for a long time with the employment relationships in the formal economy. Consequently, the self-employment and the other individual economic activities in the informal economy, highly important in developing countries, have until now not been ethically reflected upon. In this excellent study, the author takes the Nigerian situation as a point of departure from which he offers new opportunities for developing a poverty alleviation strategy that aims, above all, at creating Decent Work opportunities in the informal economy. This is indeed an excellent contribution not only to the further development of the Catholic social ethics for the African context but also to the current efforts in the continent at reducing poverty in a sustainable way.»
Professor Dr. Bernhard Emunds, Frankfurt am Main


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CHAPTER TWO Informal Economy in General


Introduction In this chapter attention is turned to the informal economy. The decision to examine the phenomenon of informality is predicated on the belief that there is a very high likelihood that people who constitute the working poor work mostly in the informal economy. 98 This is also with a view to understanding better the condition in which the poor live and work. This whole endeavour, it is believed, will further provide more answers to the question: Why are people poor even though they are working? Understanding the condition in which the poor work and the factors that shape and reshape these condition is undoubtedly necessary for knowing what policy actions to recommend for a more effective and sustainable poverty alleviation strategy 2.1 Conceptual Framework Informality is a complex phenomenon that cannot be covered with one simple definition. It does not belong to a single unit of study. It is a dynamic process which includes many types of economic and social activities. It is indeed by its very nature difficult to study, define and measure. For this reason, there abound so many terminologies describing the same phenomenon, such as: “traditional”, “informal”, “underground”, “second”, “cash”, “parallel” black sector/economy etc. Further confounding any attempts to define this category of economic activities is the fact that most of the activities are temporal in nature. Mogensen is therefore right when he observed that informality is a phenomenon that “develops all the time according to the “principles of running waters”: it adjusts to changes in...

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