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 een denktank en kennisnetwerk, gewijd aan het bevorderen van een beter begrip van de economische en sociale gevolgen van pensioenen, vergrijzing en ‘de oude dag’ in Nederland en Europa.


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