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JSPES, Vol. 44, No. 3-4 (Fall-Winter 2019)
pp. 271-282

The Informal Sector in Bangladesh: A Case Study of Rural and Urban Street Vendors    

Md. Zohurul Islam
Bangladesh Public Administration Training Center, Savar, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Anisur Rahman Khan
Department of Sociology, East West University, Dhaka, Bangladesh and Postdoctoral Fellow University of South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

The informal sector contributes significantly to the overall economy of many countries including Bangladesh. Heightened unemployment rate coupled with widespread poverty has led street vendors progressively to become a prevalent informal group in Bangladesh. Studies on street vending in Bangladesh are very limited. The present study was carried out to address some important gaps in the existing literature. Principally, it examines the socio-demographic features of the street vendors in Bangladesh. Then, it portrays an economic sketch of the street vending profession. Finally, it looks at the threats, insecurities and supports associated with street vending in Bangladesh. A structured questionnaire survey was administered in both rural and urban areas of 33 districts (out of 64). The size of the sample was 777. It was found that mostly the illiterate younger males with a larger family size are predominantly engaged in different trades of street vending. Despite having potentials, street vending cannot be labeled as decent entrepreneurship as investments, income and savings of the vendors are minimal. The government does not have any specific measure for supporting their entrepreneurship development rather it often adopts harsh measures against street vendors. Few recommendations have been put in place to overcome the obstacles in this sector.