Title: Using self-employment as proxy for entrepreneurship: some empirical caveats

Authors: Carl Magnus Bjuggren; Dan Johansson; Mikael Stenkula

Addresses: Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University, SE – 581 83, Linköping, Sweden; Stockholm School of Economics/EHFF, P.O. Box 6501, SE – 113 83, Stockholm, Sweden. ' HUI Research, SE – 103 29, Stockholm, Sweden; Department of Economics, Dalarna University, SE – 781 70, Borlänge, Sweden. ' Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), P.O. Box 55665, SE – 102 15, Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: Self-employment is the most frequently used measure of entrepreneurship. However, its definition varies between countries, which makes comparisons difficult. We present an analysis of Swedish self-employment data and show that even within one country, the depicted development differs greatly depending on the source used. Unlike previous claims in cross-country studies, we find that there is no basis for categorising Sweden as having increased its self-employment rate more than others. This demonstrates a need to carefully specify the characteristics of the data, and their advantages and disadvantages, before drawing conclusions about the frequency of entrepreneurship in different countries.

Keywords: Labour Force Survey; self-employed workers; self-employment; labour statistics; administrative sources; RAMS; global entrepreneurship index; GEINDEX; high impact entrepreneurship; COMParative ENtrepreneurship Data for International Analysis; COMPENDIA; Sweden; cross-country studies; statistical data; small and medium-sized enterprises; SMEs; entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship research; Europe.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2012.049578

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2012 Vol.17 No.3, pp.290 - 303

Published online: 09 Oct 2012 *

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