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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


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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