Informal workers getting older: towards a framework for understanding age in relation to work activities
Professor Francie Lund
WIEGO Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing, TBC, United Kingdom


The majority of workers in the global south (“ developing countries” ) now work informally, and increasing numbers of workers in the north do the same. Informal work is defined as work without legal and social protection. There is relatively good awareness in social policy circles of the numbers of people who enter retirement with insufficient coverage to ensure financial security in their older years. Little attention has been paid to the specific position of informal workers in “the older years after contractualisation”.

This paper will explore a framework for addressing this important issue. There has been a great improvement in statistics about the numbers and occupations of informal workers, but little about the patterns and movements of workers in and out of the labour market as they get older. We know that some in extended families start doing more household care, enabling younger members to go out to work; we know that some change occupations, to accommodate changing physical abilities; little is known about the gendered differences in support networks used by informal workers and their organisations. Some work voluntarily well beyond “ retirement years”; others may have no choice but to continue working.

The paper will draw on and drill down on existing large scale survey data from a selection of countries that include informal work in their households labour force, and health surveys. Using this data will enable identification of appropriate design for  qualitative participatory research work with organisations of informal workers between 2019 and 2021.