Self-employment of older Americans: do recessions matter?

Amelia M. Biehl, Tami Gurley-Calvez, Brian Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


As high unemployment rates linger following the latest recession, job opportunities can be sparse, especially for older workers. This might prompt older Americans to seek out opportunities in self-employment. Alternatively, recession-related decreases in economic activity might make self-employment less attractive. Using the Health and Retirement Study, we find that unemployed respondents are more likely to enter self-employment and that these decisions are clearly affected by recessions, although the effects differ by recession and gender. Unlike men, women’s self-employment decisions are very sensitive to other sources of household income, and women are less likely to become self-employed the deeper the recession.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-309
Number of pages13
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Economics of gender
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Older Americans
  • Recession
  • Unemployment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Economics and Econometrics


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