How many people work for themselves?

One thing I've been wondering, is how many of us there are out there? How big is the tribe?

I've been having a surf around. The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) says that 13% of the UK population is self employed.

They also say...

"Self-employment may be seen either as a survival strategy for those who cannot find any other means of earning an income or as evidence of entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to be one’s own boss. The self-employment rates shown here reflect these various motives."

OECD (2010), "Self-employment", in OECD, OECD Factbook 2010: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics, OECD Publishing. doi: 10.1787/factbook-2010-48-en

Which made me laugh really a lot. Aah, the highs, the lows, the rich rich tapestry. Oh yes.

But of course not everyone who works for themselves is self-employed, so these numbers will be lower than our real numbers.

Some of our tribe will be classified as self employed, but others have created companies, by themselves or with partners, and may technically be employees. So there must be quite a lot more of us than this 13%.

And it doesn't seem that likely to me that only half as many Americans choose to work for themselves as Brits. And check out those Italians! 26%!


Also, the chart makes it look like self employment is dropping over time - what do you think? Does that match up with what you see around you?

About the author

Jessica Kennedy
Friday, 27 July, 2012 - 12:05
United Kingdom

Jessica is an acupuncturist,, and the founder of