The value of self-employment to ethnic minorities

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Work, Employment and Society


Malcolm Brynin, Mohammed Shamsul Karim and Wouter Zwysen

Publication date


It is sometimes argued that ethnic minorities have a cultural predisposition towards self-employment. However, this is generally not the preferred option for minority groups. We argue that ethnic minorities face a double risk in deciding between employment and self-employment. While their chances in employment leave them exposed to greater risk than the majority group, self-employment, which is inherently risky for all workers, adds to their general risk environment. We demonstrate a negative underpinning to their self-employed activity, showing that minority groups in the UK earn less in self-employment relative to the white British majority, work longer hours, and have lower job satisfaction. They also leave self-employment sooner to take up a job as an employee and use resources such as higher education to stand a better chance in employment.

Volume and page numbers

33, 846-864





Management: Business, Migration, Labour Market, Organizations And Firms, Income Dynamics, Wages And Earnings and Ethnic Groups