Informal employment in high-income countries for a health inequalities research: A scoping review

Mireia Julià, Gemma Tarafa, Patricia O'Campo, Carles Muntaner, Pere Jódar, Joan Benach

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Informal employment (IE) is one of the least studied employment conditions in public health research, mainly due to the difficulty of its conceptualization and its measurement, producing a lack of a unique concept and a common method of measurement. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this review is to identify literature on IE in order to improve its definition and methods of measurement, with special attention given to high-income countries, to be able to study the possible impact on health inequalities within and between countries. METHODS: A scoping review of definitions and methods of measurement of IE was conducted reviewing relevant databases and grey literature and analyzing selected articles. RESULTS: We found a wide spectrum of terms for describing IE as well as definitions and methods of measurement. We provide a definition of IE to be used in health inequalities research in high-income countries. Direct methods such as surveys can capture more information about workers and firms in order to estimate IE. CONCLUSIONS: These results can be used in further investigations about the impacts of this IE on health inequalities. Public health research must improve monitoring and analysis of IE in order to know the impacts of this employment condition on health inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-356
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 18
Externally publishedYes


  • Informal sector
  • employment conditions
  • health equity
  • high-income populations
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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