Self-employment among older individuals in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, self-employment and entrepreneurship among older age groups (here defined as after state pension age) are rising. On the one hand, this is due to an increase in career self-employed persons and their tendency to work until older ages than employees. On the other hand, this seems to be related to the development – which is not unique for the Netherlands – that employees enter self-employment after their retirement from a wage-and-salary job, as a way to bridge the period between career employment and full-time retirement (Von Bonsdorff, Zhan, Song, & Wang, 2017; Wang, Zhan, Liu, & Shultz, 2008). In order to get a better understanding of senior self-employment in the Netherlands, we will therefore make a distinction between two groups of senior self-employed persons based on their work history: (a)
career self-employed individuals who continue their employment activities beyond the state pension age, and (b) career wage-and-salary workers who re-enter the labour market after retirement as being selfemployed. These two groups may have different options and motives for continuing / starting work as an entrepreneur after state pension age. More particularly, in this paper we try to find out whether continuing / starting to work in self-employment beyond state pension age is predominantly driven by opportunity, or intrinsic motives, or rather by driven by financial needs and a lack of opportunities in the primary labour market.
After this short introductory section, we will continue with a descriptive paragraph (Section 2), which sketches the senior self-employed in the Netherlands in terms of size and composition. Thereafter, we will look more in depth into the two groups of the senior self-employed. In Section 3, we focus on the career self-employed. In Section 4, we focus on post-retirement self-employment of former wage-andsalary workers. By synthesizing insights from the existing empirical literature on the senior self-employed in the Netherlands and by analysing recent data on postretirement self-employment plans of Dutch older workers, we aim to provide a better understanding of the motives to continue / start self-employment beyond state pension age. To conclude, Section 5 provides a summary and discussion of the existing empirical evidence on senior self-employment in the Netherlands, and describes relevant directions for future research.

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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