Informal Work and Wellbeing in Urban South Asia: Who Succeeds, Who Fails and Under What Conditions?

This study proposes an exploration of the determinants of wellbeing for informal workers living in informal settlements across a diverse set of urbanising localities in Bangladesh and India. We will present empirical evidence on what patterns and gradations of wellbeing success and failure are emerging for women and men engaged in informal work and living in informal settlements.

While there is strong evidence suggesting that economic, socio-political and governance conditions relating to informal living and work significantly impact development outcomes, relatively little is known about the ways that informal workers actually make their urban lives, the priorities that they have, the trade-offs that they have to make in their efforts to achieve wellbeing, and the barriers that they face in trying to escape poverty.

The proposed study aims to fill this gap by asking: (1) What are the patterns and gradation of wellbeing outcomes for informal workers in informal settlements? (2) Which combinations of institutional conditions of informal settlements help explain the patterns in the observed outcomes? And (3) How can wellbeing outcomes and processes inform anti-poverty interventions for informal workers in urban settings?

Our sampling strategy for this study will combine purposive selection of cities and informal settlements (sites), with the randomised selection of households within each site. The sample will cover 14 informal settlements (namely 3 sites in a Metro, 2 sites in an emergent secondary city and 2 sites in an established secondary city, in India and Bangladesh).

Key contacts

Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader


+44 (0)1273 915767

Project details

start date
7 April 2014
end date
4 June 2015


About this project

Recent work