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The Post Crisis Growth in the Self-Employed: Volunteers or Reluctant Recruits?

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  • Henley, Andrew

    (Cardiff University)

Abstract

In the UK by late 2014 there were almost 0.75m more self-employed than at the start of the financial crisis in early 2008. This represents over 75% of jobs growth in the UK over the same period. This experience has attracted commentary from independent policy analysts and others, focusing on whether growth has been structural, reflecting changes in the nature of employment and attitudes towards business venturing, or cyclical, reflecting a post-crisis shift towards flexible insecure forms of employment as an alternative to long-term unemployment. Recent commentary has also focused on heterogeneity across UK regions. Longitudinal data covering 2009-2013 from the ESRC Understanding Society survey are used to examine transitions into self-employment, and regression correlation with indicators of labour market conditions (unemployment, earnings) in the area local to the individual. Transitions into self-employment from both previous paid employment and inactivity found to be are negatively correlated with lagged local unemployment rates and positively correlated with lagged lower quartile earnings in the local area. These correlation patterns, although varying in size, hold for men and women, and are robust to controlling for individual characteristics. This suggests that local pull factors are far more significant in driving transitions into self-employment, and explains why business formation rates are higher, post-2008, in more advantaged UK areas. Self-employed business ownership does not appear to a significant alternative to unemployment for those where of paid employment demand is weak. Entrepreneurial activity prospers were wages are higher and unemployment lower.

Suggested Citation

  • Henley, Andrew, 2015. "The Post Crisis Growth in the Self-Employed: Volunteers or Reluctant Recruits?," IZA Discussion Papers 9232, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp9232
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    Cited by:

    1. Henley, Andrew, 2019. "Transitioning from Solo Self-Employed to Microbusiness Employer: Local Economic Environment or Owner Characteristics?," IZA Discussion Papers 12189, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    2. Daniel Wheatley, 2021. "Workplace location and the quality of work: The case of urban-based workers in the UK," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 58(11), pages 2233-2257, August.
    3. Reuschke, Darja & Henley, Andrew & Daniel, Elizabeth & Price, Victoria, 2021. "Testing the Differential Impact of COVID-19 on Self-Employed Women and Men in the United Kingdom," IZA Discussion Papers 14216, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Reuschke, Darja & Houston, Donald, 2020. "Revisiting the gender gap in commuting through self-employment," Journal of Transport Geography, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    local earnings; local unemployment; self-employment; longitudinal analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • R23 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population

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