Close your eyes and picture an informal worker.

What economic shock is that person most worried about? What resources can they tap into in hard times? Can they safely put money aside at the end of the month for the medium - or longterm? Your answers will be radically different depending on whether you pictured a seamstress earning a small but regular wage in an unregistered garment factory in Bangladesh; an Andean farmer growing potatoes on 45-degree inclines in the Puna; a Zambian saw miller and her 10 employees; or the owner of a fleet of 20 matatu buses in Nairobi. The informal economy employs up to 95% of the labor force in some countries.

Historically, social protection has focused on the poor and the formal. This leaves a large segment uncovered, untargeted, and often unstudied.

In "Social Protection for the Informal Economy – Operational Lessons for Developing Countries in Africa and Beyond," we show that this "missing" or "missed" middle of non-poor informal households (NPI) accounts for more than half of the population. - blog.wb.org/blogs

A version of this article appears in the print on December 10, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.