The effects of the informal sector on construction
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To link to this item DOI: 10.1061/40754(183)78
Most construction sectors around the world have a high percentage of output being produced informally. In developing countries informal construction activities can account for as much as 80% of employment (Farrell 2004). In general, the informal sector equates to a significant percentage of country’s GDP — 40% in developing countries and 18% in the OECD high-income countries. The informal sector in construction is not well understood and difficult to measure and is thriving both in the developed and developing world. Construction industries are made up of a large number of small firms and a small number of large firms. Many small firms are less likely to be able (or to want to) afford the bureaucratic demands of a nation’s fiscal and legal system. This evasion means a reduction in tax income for the government, and also leads to inaccurate estimates of the true value of construction output. Some national statistical agencies factor in an estimate of the size of the informal sector, but without effective measurement, there is no guarantee that the estimate is a fair one. The message from the paper is that the informal sector in construction is likely to grow. We need to understand the sector and recognise its impact on construction.