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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 4: Self-employment, pensions and the risk of poverty in old age

Uwe Fachinger


The risk of poverty in old age entails the problems of financing and receiving an adequate pension. Some of the risks are determined by factors which may be influenced by individuals, and which have to be seen in the context of ability and willingness to save part of their earnings of self-employed people. The other group of factors, which determine the risk of old age poverty, cannot be influenced by individual action or behaviour. These factors include the institutional and legal framework and developments in capital markets. Here the stability and security of the entitlements, the replacement rate, and the adjustment of pensions during retirement to maintain once living standard pose special problems to avoid poverty in old age.

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