The paper examines the role and influence of self-employment across the OECD. The overall trend in self-employment, at the economy level in the years since 1966, has been down in most countries. The main exceptions to this are Portugal, New Zealand and the United Kingdom where the trend has been upward. For most countries there is a negative relationship between the self-employment rate and the unemployment rate. The probability of being self-employed is higher among men than women and rises with age. The least educated have the highest probability of being self-employed, however, evidence is found that the most highly educated also have relatively high probabilities. The self-employed have higher levels of job satisfaction than employees. I could find no evidence that increases in the self-employment rate increased the real growth rate of the economy; in fact there was even evidence of the opposite. The self-employed are less willing to move from their neighborhoods, towns and regions than are employees, presumably because of the pull of their customers. I developed a flexibility index based on information provided by individuals in 1995. According to this index the US economy was the most flexible, followed by Canada, Germany and the Netherlands. Latvia, Russia and Hungary were found to be the least flexible countries. Of the OECD countries examined, Austria and Ireland were ranked lowest.
Blanchflower, D. G. (2000). Self-employment in OECD countries. Labour economics, 7(5), 471-505.