Behavioural-Orientation and Continuity of Informality in Ghana
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Behavioural-Orientation and Continuity of Informality in Ghana

Authors: Yvonne Ayerki Lamptey


The expanding informal sector in developing countries and in Ghana in particular from the 1980s has now been aggravated by the growing population and downsizing in both the public and private sectors, with displaced workers finding alternative livelihoods in the informal sector. Youth and graduate unemployment also swell the numbers and further promote the continuity of the sector. Formal workers and institutions facilitate the growth and complicate demarcations between informality within the formal and informal sectors. In spite of its growth and increasing importance, the informal economy does not feature in policy debates and has often been neglected by the Ghana government. The phenomenon has evolved with modernity into myriad unimaginable forms. Indeed, actors within the sector often clash with the interventions provided by policy makers - because neither the operatives nor the activities they perform can be clearly defined. This study uses in-depth interviews to explore the behavioural nature of the informal workers in Ghana to understand how the operatives describe and perceive the sector, and to identify the factors that influence their drive to stay within the sector. This paper concludes that the operatives clearly distinguish between the formal and informal sectors and identify the characteristics and conditions that constitute the informal sector. Other workers are trapped between formality and informality. The findings also enumerate the push and pull factors contributing to the growth of the sector.

Keywords: Informal work, informal sector, operatives, Sub-Saharan Africa, unemployment.

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