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Property Rights, Social Capital and Informal Sector Livelihood

Paanwalas in Mumbai

How institutions frame economic transactions is crucial to the ability of the poor in the informal sector to fi nd their way out of poverty. The literature points to two crucial aspects of the lived reality of the urban informal sector: the network of social relationships and property rights. This article investigates the manner in which the two interact to determine earning opportunities in the urban informal sector. The study is based on a sample of informal sector paanwalas or retail paan shops across Mumbai. We point out the signifi cant role continuous access to physical space, the arena where property rights and social capital interface, plays in determining earnings.

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