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Involuntary and dependent self-employment in Spain

Raquel Carrasco, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; Virginia Hernanz, Universidad de Alcalá
Project selected in the Call to support social research projects: vocational training, early school leaving and job insecurity

This research analyses why workers opt for self-employment and their degree of economic dependence on a single client. In 2017, the incidence of self-employment in Spain (excluding the agricultural sector) was 15%; the percentage of involuntary self-employment, 21.7% (both ratios above the European average), and the economically dependent self-employment rate, 3.6%. In recent years, there has been a shift towards greater outsourcing that has led to an increase in the number of “false” self-employed workers. The results obtained are useful for understanding the role of self-employment in the economy and for the design of specific economic policies for each group.
Key points
  • 1
       The incidence of self-employment in Spain, excluding the agricultural sector, was above the European average in 2017 (15% versus 11.9%) and had remained barely unchanged during the previous 10 years.
  • 2
       Involuntary self-employment in Spain (21.7% of the self-employed) exceeded the European average (16.9%) in 2017, while economically dependent self-employment, defined as those who rely on only one client, was below the European average (3.6% versus 8.4%).
  • 3
       The incidence of involuntary self-employment is higher among younger workers, those with a low level of education, those in the construction sector, and those in low-skilled occupations.
  • 4
       Regarding dependent self-employment, there is a higher incidence among males, immigrants, younger workers, low-skilled workers, and those working in the construction sector.
  • 5
       In regions with a higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, there are fewer self-employed workers, whereas regions with less favourable market conditions show a higher incidence of involuntary and dependent self-employed workers (the most vulnerable categories). In those regions with a strong manufacturing industry, there are more voluntary self-employed workers who are not dependent.
Self-employment in Spain is higher than the European average
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