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Self-Employment Transitions among Older American Workers with Career Jobs

  • Michael D. Giandrea

    ()

    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

  • Kevin E. Cahill

    ()

    (Analysis Group, Inc.)

  • Joseph F. Quinn, Ph.D.

    ()

    (Boston College)

What role does self-employment play in the retirement process? Older Americans are staying in the labor force longer than prior trends would have predicted and many change jobs later in life. These job transitions are often within the same occupation or across occupations within wage-and-salary employment. The transition can also be out of wage-and-salary work and into self employment. Indeed, national statistics show that self employment becomes more prevalent with age, partly because self employment provides older workers with opportunities not found in traditional wage-and-salary jobs, such as flexibility in hours worked and independence. This paper analyzes transitions into and out of self employment among older workers who have had career jobs. We utilize the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally-representative dataset of older Americans, to investigate the prevalence of self employment among older workers who made a job transition later in life and to explore the factors that determine the choice of wage-and-salary employment or self employment. We find that post-career transitions into and out of self employment are common and that health status, career occupation, and financial variables are important determinants of these transitions. As older Americans and the country as a whole face financial strains in retirement income in the years ahead, self employment may be a vital part of the pro-work solution.

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Paper provided by U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its series Working Papers with number 418.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bls:wpaper:ec080040
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  1. Lettau, Michael K., 1997. "Compensation in part-time jobs versus full-time jobs What if the job is the same?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 101-106, September.
  2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Joulfaian, David & Rosen, Harvey S, 1994. "Sticking It Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(1), pages 53-75, February.
  3. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey Rosen, 1992. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," Working Papers 679, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  5. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  6. Donald Bruce & Douglas Holtz-Eakin & Joseph F. Quinn, 2000. "Self-Employment and Labor Market Transitions at Older Ages," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 490, Boston College Department of Economics.
  7. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Self-Employment and Labor Force Participation of Older Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 339-357.
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