Does Family Matter? Investigating the Relationships between Household Composition and Participation in the Informal Economy

Emily J. Wornell, Pennsylvania State University
Paige Castellanos, Pennsylvania State University
Ann Tickamyer, Pennsylvania State University
Leif Jensen, Pennsylvania State University

Informal work is widely recognized as a commonly utilized economic strategy in developing countries, but less is known about its function in developed countries. Drawing on a recent and unique national-level survey on informal work in the United States, and building off previous analyses of residential and gender differences in informal work, this research explores the implications of household composition for the prevalence, nature and importance of participation in the informal economy. This analysis examines whether and how family composition is correlated with 1) informal work participation, 2) type of informal work engaged in, and 3) reasons for participation. It also takes into consideration various demographic characteristics, social networks, and the presence of outside help. The preliminary findings of this research indicate a complex relationship between family composition and informal work participation that does not follow the typical patterns found in formal work or self-employment participation.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Economy, Labor Force, Education and Inequality