Wednesday. 26.06.2019
El tiempo

Dismantling a myth: immigrants do not work for themselves more than locals

In the EU, the average share of self-employed persons among the native-born population is 14%, while among foreign-born persons is 13%. Finland also meets the trend. Many foreigners decide to start their own business only after experiencing difficulties to be employed others.

A group of workers during a meeting. Photo: Fox from Pexels.
A group of workers during a meeting. Photo: Fox from Pexels.
Dismantling a myth: immigrants do not work for themselves more than locals

About 30.2 million people in the EU aged 20-64 were self-employed at the end of 2018. Of these, around 26.7 million were native-born, while 3.5 million were born in a foreign country. Among the latter, 2.2 million were born outside the EU and 1.3 million were born in a different EU Member State, according to the latest data published by Eurostat.

In relative terms, the average share of self-employed persons among the native-born population in 2018 was 14% in the EU. This is just a little bit higher than the share recorded for foreign-born persons (13% for persons born in a different EU Member State and 12% for persons born outside the EU), as detailed Eurostat in a news release.

Those numbers show that the common assumption that most immigrants prefer to work for themselves is just another myth or half truth. It is a fact that many foreigners only decide to start their own business after experiencing many difficulties to be employed by established companies. In that sense, they are not very different from the locals.

The situation in Finland

In the case of Finland, the country has 2,243,500 native-born workers of which 267,400 are self-employed (12%). As regards the foreign population, there are 147,100 non-native workers of which 16,800 are entrepreneurs (11.4%), according to Eurostat.

Among the latter, the breakdown of the numbers published by the European Statistical Office show that in Finland there are 59,900 workers born in another EU Member State, of which 7,500 are self-employed (12.5%). And among the 87,200 workers born outside of the EU, there are 9,300 entrepreneurs (10.7%).

Self-Employed-EUNative-born population

Of course, the comparison different EU countries may show also very different realities in relation to the entrepreneurship of locals and foreigners.

Across the EU Member States and for persons in employment, three out of ten native-born people in Greece were self-employed (31%) and around one in five in Italy (22%) and Poland (18%) in 2018.

In contrast, last year the self-employed persons among the native-born population accounted for less than 10% of total employment in Denmark and Luxembourg (both 7%) as well as in Germany and Sweden (both 9%).

The foreigners

For persons born in a different EU Member State than the Member State of residence, the highest self-employment rate was recorded in Poland (38%), followed at some distance by Malta (21%) and Estonia (20%).

At the opposite end of the scale, the lowest self-employment rates for persons born in a different EU Member State were observed in Luxembourg (8%), followed by Hungary, Sweden, Austria, Germany and Cyprus (each 9%).

The highest self-employment rate for persons born outside the EU in 2018 was recorded in Czechia (35%), followed by Poland (19%), Hungary, the United Kingdom (both 17%) and the Netherlands (16%).

By contrast, the lowest rates were recorded in Estonia, Luxembourg and Austria (each 7%), followed by Sweden (8%), Slovenia, Ireland, Denmark and Germany (each 9%).

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