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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 14: Between freedom and insecurity: future challenges

Joop Schippers and Wieteke Conen

Extract

This chapter discusses the findings from previous chapters, points to future policy challenges and presents suggestions for future research. The picture of self-employment as precarious work in Europe is diverse and far from uniform, but with respect to the different dimensions one may conclude – though with a degree of caution – that: (1) for many self-employed current income is not an immediate or pressing problem, although for some this is mostly because their income from self-employment is not the only source of income. Still, many self-employed lack the opportunity to put something aside for a rainy day; (2) in various countries, social benefits and regulatory protection are relatively poor, though very much depending on specific national conditions; and (3) uncertainty for self-employed is typically high, but also often regarded part of the job. Directions for future research include research on changes in employment biographies over time, employment insecurity and social protection.

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