How gender and migrant status affects collective action among street vendors

Project Active from to Cities

Cities across sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing an influx of migration from rural regions and abroad, creating challenges for sustainable growth and development. Ensuring the economic and social incorporation of these foreign or rural migrants into the urban political economy is a critical challenge. While migrants face intense market competition (livelihood) in some parts of destination cities, instead, they are integrated into pre-existing dynamics of collective bargaining in other parts of the city. Under what conditions are local labour markets conducive to the economic incorporation of rural migrants?

We study street vendors in the informal economy in Monrovia, Liberia. How does ethnicity, gender, and nationality affect whether native street vendors choose to engage in cooperation or collective bargaining with newly in-migrating informal labourers from the countryside and from abroad?

This project has implications for understanding the barriers to the economic integration of migrants in urban informal labour markets and of the gender dynamics present in such markets. Although the predominantly female urban informal economy comprises over 80% of the labour force in many developing countries, existing research on informal labour remains limited by sparse and low-quality data. Existing outside the realm of state control, and thus not subjected to standard market regulation, the informal market economy generates significant disparities in income and opportunities between informal workers. In collecting original survey data, we seek to:

  1. Generate insights for policy that mitigates such disparities;
  2. Highlight implications for improving the livelihood of women and migrants.