What's new

  1. Gender and the informal economy: Key challenges and policy response

    22 December 2017

    EMPLOYMENT Working Paper No. 236

  2. Step out of the shadow!

    16 November 2017

    Cartoons about the informal economy in Kyrgyzstan

  3. Undeclared Work Has Negative Consequences For All

    12 October 2017


  1. Undeclared work concerns all of us

  2. The program of activities for the employment of young people in Katanga (PAEJK - project), DRC

  3. Step out of the shadow! 
    (see more videos)

  4. How small tourism businesses in Nepal are turning more professional

Informal economy

The informal economy comprises more than half of the global labour force and more than 90% of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) worldwide. Informality is an important characteristic of labour markets in the world with millions of economic units operating and hundreds of millions of workers pursuing their livelihoods in conditions of informality.

The expression “informal economy” encompasses a huge diversity of situations and phenomena. Indeed, the informal economy manifests itself in a variety of forms across and within economies. Formalization process and measures aiming to facilitate transitions to formality need to be tailored to specific circumstances that different countries and categories of economic units or workers face.

The 2002 ILC Resolution and Conclusions on Decent Work and Informal Economy was a milestone in the ILO’s integrated approach to informality. Recommendation concerning the transition from the informal to the formal economy (R204) adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2015, constitutes a historic landmark for the world of work as it is the first international standard focusing exclusively on the informal economy in its entirety.

The Informal Economy Unit, in collaboration with the ILO Regional Offices and other technical units, is promoting integrated policy framework that facilitates the transitions from the informal to the formal economy through providing technical assistance to the ILO tripartite constituents on the development of such integrated policy framework based on social dialogue, policy oriented research and capacity building activities on the issue of facilitating transition to formality.

Key resources

  1. R204 E-Platform

    Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy

  1. International labour standard

    R204 - Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204)

  2. Follow-up strategy for action on implementing R204

    Formalization of the informal economy: Follow-up to the resolution concerning efforts to facilitate the transition from the informal to the formal economy

  3. Book

    The Informal Economy and Decent Work: A Policy Resource Guide supporting transitions to formality

    Policy Resource Guide bringing together a synthesis of knowledge, policy innovations and good practices facilitating transition to formality.

  4. Publication

    Women and Men in the Informal Economy: A Statistical Picture

    Provides direct measures of informal employment inside and outside informal enterprises for 47 countries and statistics.


  1. © ILO / M. Crozet


    Global and Regional Knowledge Sharing Forums on Transition to Formal Economy

  1. Capacity building

    Learning series on the transition to formal economy

    • Course on measuring and monitoring informality (2016)
    • Course on designing an integrated policy framework for the transition to formal economy (20 - 24 June 2016)

  2. Capacity building

    Academy on formalisation of the informal economy: Second edition