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Immigrants in the Informal Sector: Evidence from Africa (Short Note)

Mohammad Amin, Enterprise Analysis Unit, FPDEA, World Bank


A survey of informal businesses in Burkina Faso, Cameroons and Cape Verde shows that roughly half of the businesses are owned by immigrants. Systematic differences between immigrant-owned and native-owned businesses might be expected given that immigrants are usually a vulnerable group and take time to assimilate with the native community. While the survey shows some important differences between native and immigrant owners of businesses, there is no clear evidence that relative to natives, immigrants are either discriminated against, are less efficient or come from a relatively less privileged background. However, immigrants are more likely to be males, unmarried and migrate when young; immigrant-owned businesses are smaller in size but also more efficient; the level of education is roughly same across natives and immigrants and so is the employment-unemployment status prior to starting the business. However, immigrant owners are less likely to have jobs in an established business and more likely to be victimized than the natives. Immigrants also appear to prefer the service sector over manufacturing compared with the natives and also more likely to operate from inside than outside household premises. We also find that some of the reported differences disappear as immigrants stay longer in the receiving city.

Suggested Citation

Mohammad Amin. Immigrants in the Informal Sector: Evidence from Africa (Short Note). , 2010.
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