Informal Economy

It takes an average of 58 hours a week to earn less than 30 percent of the national average

Informal employment has been an enduring social phenomenon in Mongolia. This report presents the results of the 2021 Informal Employment Survey for Mongolia, which was undertaken to understand the current state of informal employment in the country.

It identified the working conditions of those in informal employment, the reasons for accepting informal employment, the opportunities for formalization and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

Launch of the report in Ulaanbaatar
The study further collected views on whether government policies and programmes have been accessible to informal employment workers during the pandemic. Among the findings of the report are that:
  • Personal desire or interest, difficulty finding a formal job, and lack of alternatives were the most common reasons for being in informal employment.
  • Three-quarters of informal employment workers had no formal employment contract, and worked very long hours: 58.1 hours per week, on average.
  • The main cited advantages of informal employment were flexible hours, good salary, and suitability in light of their skills. The main disadvantages were inability to qualify for social protection, unstable wages, and poor access to health services.
  • The majority, especially those who are self employed, younger and had higher education, said they were interested in formalizing their status but faced obstacles in formalizing.
  • Design of formalization incentives should take into account main obstacles; among them: tax and social insurance premiums, lack of knowledge of tax and fee law, accounting issues, and the complexity of registration procedures. · The great majority also reported unfamiliarity with employment promotion policies and programmes and labour laws.
  • Close to half did not work during the survey period, which was during the pandemic. Among those who did work, seven-tenths said the level of activity of the enterprise where they worked declined.
  • More than six-tenths said they did not receive enough assistance to cover living expenses, though most still found government measures effective in supporting household income and reducing utility costs.

The survey was conducted by the Research Institute for Labour and Social Protection under the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, with technical support from the ILO. Members of the working group established for the survey design and conduct, have provided valuable advice during the survey, including the Confederation of Mongolian Trade Unions, the Mongolian Employers’ Federation, the National Statistics Office and other organizations.