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Self-Employment as Precarious Work

A European Perspective

Wieteke Conen and Joop Schippers

Since the 1970s the long term decline in self-employment has slowed – and even reversed in some countries – and the prospect of ‘being your own boss’ is increasingly topical in the discourse of both the general public and within academia. Traditionally, self-employment has been associated with independent entrepreneurship, but increasingly it has become a form of precarious work. This book utilises evidence-based information to address both the current and future challenges of this trend as the nature of self-employment changes, as well as to demonstrate where, when and why self-employment has emerged as precarious work in Europe.
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Chapter 2: Labour market flexibility, self-employment and precariousness

Joop Schippers


This chapter discusses self-employment within the context of increasing labour market flexibility and compares self-employment with other forms of flexibility in terms of (dis)advantages, attractiveness for different groups of individuals and the risk of precariousness. With the changing nature of self-employment it has become attractive for other types of individuals. So far, female participation in self-employment is lower than male participation. Forced self-employment may contribute to the risk of precariousness. Low participation in maintenance of and the investment in new human capital may constitute a risk for future precariousness among self-employed.

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