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An empirical study of the determinants of self-employment in developing countries

Author

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  • Carlo Pietrobelli

    (University of Rome III, Rome, Italy)

  • Roberta Rabellotti

    (Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Metodi Quantitativi, Università del Piemonte Orientale, Italy)

  • Matteo Aquilina

    (University of Rome III, Rome, Italy)

Abstract

Official statistics record a tremendous diversity in the level and dynamics of the self-employment rate across countries. Such diversity is even more pronounced for developing countries than for industrial countries. In these countries, self-employment figures may represent evidence of the spark of an emerging entrepreneurial class still in its infant stages, or conceal marginal urban manufacturing employment at the mere level of subsistence and disguising actual unemployment in years of economic depression. This paper documents this diversity for developing and developed countries with new empirical evidence, and tests the determinants of this diversity with econometric techniques. Estimates are presented on a sample of 64 developing countries and 19 developed countries in a period from the 1960s through the 1990s. The results generally confirm a negative association between the rate of self-employment and the stage of development: self-employment would tend to disappear with the development process. However, we present evidence suggesting that in some cases self-employment is also related to high value-added manufactured exports, representing a dynamic and emerging form of entrepreneurship. To this aim, self-employment would not be motivated by the desire to evade taxes, but rather an active role of the government may enhance it. The relationships with the development of the financial sector, educational levels, and other cultural factors tend to vary. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Pietrobelli & Roberta Rabellotti & Matteo Aquilina, 2004. "An empirical study of the determinants of self-employment in developing countries," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(6), pages 803-820.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jintdv:v:16:y:2004:i:6:p:803-820
    DOI: 10.1002/jid.1117
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Yamada, Gustavo, 1996. "Urban Informal Employment and Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Theory and Evidence," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 44(2), pages 289-314, January.
    2. House, William J. & Ikiara, Gerrishon K. & McCormick, Dorothy, 1993. "Urban self-employment in Kenya: Panacea or viable strategy?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 21(7), pages 1205-1223, July.
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    5. Taylor, Mark P, 1996. "Earnings, Independence or Unemployment: Why Become Self-Employed?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(2), pages 253-266, May.
    6. David Blanchflower & A Oswald, 1993. "Entrepreneurship," CEP Discussion Papers dp0134, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew & Stutzer, Alois, 2001. "Latent entrepreneurship across nations," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 680-691, May.
    8. Syrquin, Moshe, 1988. "Patterns of structural change," Handbook of Development Economics,in: Hollis Chenery & T.N. Srinivasan (ed.), Handbook of Development Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 7, pages 203-273 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gindling, T.H. & Newhouse, David, 2014. "Self-Employment in the Developing World," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 313-331.
    2. Farzana Chowdhury & Siri Terjesen & David Audretsch, 2015. "Varieties of entrepreneurship: institutional drivers across entrepreneurial activity and country," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 121-148, August.
    3. Ana I. Moreno-Monroy & Shu Yu & Victoria Euse, 2016. "Urban Employment in Small Businesses and the Level of Economic Development: Evidence from Chinese Cities," Growth and Change, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 53-71, March.
    4. Joanna Tyrowicz & Magdalena Smyk, 2017. "Pushed into necessity? Labor market inequality and entrepreneurship of disadvantaged group," GRAPE Working Papers 6, GRAPE Group for Research in Applied Economics.
    5. Nidhiya Menon & Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, 2013. "Credit and self-employment," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 22, pages 359-377 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. Caucutt Elizabeth M & Kumar Krishna B., 2008. "Africa: Is Aid an Answer?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-48, December.
    7. Njang Vera Anweh & Ndamsa Dickson Thomas, 2017. "Employment Vulnerability in Cameroon's Private Sector," Research Papers RP_333, African Economic Research Consortium.

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