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Does It Matter To Be Informal? Type of Employment and Public Opinions in the MENA Region

Monday, June 12, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its seminar.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

Please keep in mind that external guests will not be able to enter the building without prior registration.

Informal employment can have major effects on public opinion given its large and persistent size in developing countries. A number of studies consider informal workers as outsiders and examine the relationship between informality and political attitudes. We extend this literature by focusing on countries in the MENA region, which have sizable and stable shares of informal employment, authoritarian regimes and limited social security programs. We also contribute to the literature by accounting for the possible endogeneity between informal employment and public opinions. Our findings show that informality has a negative impact on individuals’ view about government performance and capacity. Both narrow and broad definition of informal employment in the MENA region increases adverse perceptions. Individuals in the informal sector are more skeptical about government's performance on job creation and redistribution. Also, their level of trust towards their government is lower and they declare greater levels of corruption. Moreover, we demonstrate even high-income informal workers evaluate the government more negatively, but the impact of informality gets smaller with income for corruption perceptions and trust. Finally, we show that democracy augments the negative effects of informality on public view about government performance and capacity.

The seminar starts with a 25-minute presentation of the research followed by the comments of the discussant. Then the floor will be open for participants to ask questions and discuss the research. To be able to actively take part in the discussion, please read the draft paper beforehand which is available upon request from the author. 


Anil Duman is an Associate Professor and Head of the Political Science Department, CEU Vienna and a Research Affiliate at the CEU Democracy Institute. Her broad research interests include labor economics, political economy, industrial relations, welfare state policies, and redistribution. In her recent research, on the one hand, she has been specializing on the labor market effects and governance of informality, particularly on employment and wage consequences of a dual economic structure. On the other hand, she is examining the relationship between refugee influx and living and working conditions in the context of a developing country.


Anand Murugesan is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Public Policy, CEU Vienna and a Research Affiliate at the CEU Democracy Institute. He combines insights from economics and related disciplines with causal inference tools – lab, lab-in-the-field, and observational data – to study social problems, particularly in developing countries. Recent research includes studying the impact of religious violence on India's rural economy; the long shadow of the Habsburg imperial history on tax compliance today and; cash for votes. He is co-authoring the book Demystifying Causal Inference. Before CEU, Anand worked at the University of California, Merced.