Topic guide: Livelihoods and Urbanisation

This topic guide explores the challenges that people and communities face in constructing livelihoods in an urbanising world.


As urban populations increase and jobs in the formal sector remain scarce, many urban residents construct precarious livelihoods in the informal economy. Understanding the urban informal economy is crucial in livelihoods interventions. The Topic Guide is structured around the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework (SLF), a conceptual approach developed in the late 1990s which remains a useful analytical tool today.

The core message of this guide is that the urban informal economy is a crucial source of employment, providing up to 80% of all non-agricultural jobs in some low-income cities, and makes major contributions to urban economies, yet is largely ignored in economic policy and strategies. Too often a common approach is clearance and eviction of vulnerable workers, which makes poverty worse. Strengthening informal economy livelihoods is therefore a crucial component of livelihoods development.


Brown, A.; Smith, A. Topic guide: Livelihoods and Urbanisation. Evidence on Demand, UK (2016) vii, 73p

Topic guide: Livelihoods and Urbanisation

Published 31 March 2016