As much as 68.2 per cent of the employed population in Asia-Pacific are informal workers, and their concentration is higher in Southern Asia, an International Labour Organisation study said on Thursday.

Stressing that a transition to the formal economy is must to ensure decent work for all, the study “Women and men in the informal economy- A statistical picture” provides comparable estimates of informality in work, using criteria from more than 100 countries.Informal employment is predominant in rural areas (85.2 per cent of employment) and is almost half of employment (47.4 per cent) in urban areas.

Almost all of agricultural employment (94.7 per cent) is informal in the region, and it reaches a high of 99.3 per cent in Southern Asia that includes India. Informal employment represents a higher share in the industrial sector (68.8 per cent) than in the services sector (54.1 per cent).

Southern Asia, and South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, have higher shares of informal employment than Eastern Asia. In 2016, shares were 50.7 per cent in Eastern Asia, 75.2 per cent in Southern Asia and the Pacific and 87.8 per cent in Southern Asia.

The economic development of countries in the Asia and Pacific region varies considerably and this is reflected in the proportions of informally employed: the share of informal employment is on average 71.4 per cent in developing Asian countries and 21.7 per cent in developed Asian countries.

At the country level, the share of informal employment ranges from the highest level of over 90 per cent (94.3 per cent in Nepal, 93.6 per cent in Lao and 93.1 per cent in Cambodia) to the lowest with proportions below 20 per cent in Japan.

In Eastern Asia, men are more likely to be in informal employment but in South-Eastern Asia and the Pacific, and Southern Asia, women are more likely engaged in informal work than men.