PhD research: Labor market and pension scenarios for the self-employed

The number of self-employed workers in the Netherlands and Europe is growing. To what extent are they able to prepare well for their retirement? What about their financial well-being in later life? The doctoral research of Elisabeth Beusch (Tilburg University) provides a better understanding of the heterogeneity among the self-employed and provides insight into the implications of self-employment for different groups over the life cycle. This research was realized with funding from Instituut Gak.

The situation regarding self-employed people in the Netherlands and other European countries is analyzed in three essays. The results show that when developing projections about future pensions for the self-employed, the dynamics of the labor market must be taken into account. Some people work as a self-employed person throughout their career, but this does not apply to everyone: many individuals switch from self-employed to employee one or more times during their career, or vice versa. If projections of retirement income do not take this into account, they will be not very realistic for many individuals. During their working life, people end up in different situations, with different financial consequences. The study shows that for the self-employed there are seven types of careers on the labor market, which differ in how often and for how long someone is self-employed. Finally, this study compares careers, self-employment and financial well-being in old age among different age groups in different European countries. This shows that people who were mainly self-employed during their career experience on average more financial difficulties after retirement.

The great diversity within the group of self-employed, the divergent consequences of life choices and the dynamic labor market, require targeted policies to guarantee an adequate pension income for this group.

Want to know more?
Download the paper Essays on the self-employed in the Netherlands and Europe


Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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