Self-employed or employee, full-time or part-time? Gender differences in the determinants and conditions for self-employment in Europe and the US
Recent research on self-employment has emphasised the specific dynamic of the rise of female entrepreneurship. But self-employment is still predominated by men. Only about 25-30% of the self-employed are women and the female self-employment rate is often only half as high as the male self-employment rate. This ratio is rather similar and persisting in most European countries although self-employment is discussed as an attractive option of female labour since it is characterised by a high degree of autonomy and flexibility. In order to assess the flexibility which self-employment might offer, the paper regards the determinants and conditions for self-employment emphasising the differences between part-time and full-time work. The empirical analysis is based on the Labour Force Surveys from five European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the UK) and the Current Population Survey from the US. The comparison investigates how the institutional framework, which is set by welfare state provisions to combine family and work, influences the assumed link between need for flexibility and self-employment. The results show that in fact self-employment seems to offer more flexibility to combine family and work, but also, that there is variation between countries with different institutional settings.