Urban labor markets that are characterized by the absence or ineffectiveness of regulation by legal and bureaucratic institutions can nonetheless be subject to powerful institutional forces based on customary norms, group cohesion, kinship, and social networks. Using insights derived from the New Institutional Economics, this argument is illustrated with three examples from the construction labor market in Egypt, where formal and informal institutions performing similar functions are contrasted. In each case the informal institution is found to be significantly more important in shaping labor market relations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
*An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 1990 Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association. Cornmen& by Peter von Sivers are gratefully acknowledged. The research was assisted by grants from the Joint Committee on the Near and Middle East of the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council, with funds provided by the Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Ford Foundation, and by a grant from the American Research Center in Egypt, with funds provided by the USIA. Additional funding for the sample survey was obtained from the Ford Foundation. Final Revision accepted: December 15, 1992.