September 19, 2014

Gallup finds Global Self-employed Experience High Level of Subsistence Living

people in bubbleIn a recent survey, Gallup surveyed more than 135,000 self-employed individuals from around the world, and found that, in many other nations, the self-employed exist barely above the poverty line. They are often poorly educated and work for themselves because the alternative would be starvation.

“Eighteen percent of all adults worldwide — or 29 percent of the global workforce — reported being self-employed in 2013. But rather than a positive sign of proactive entrepreneurial energy, high rates of self-employment can often signal poor economic performance. The self-employed are three times as likely as those who are employed full time for an employer to be living on less than $2 per day,” Gallup said.

“Only 18 percent of the self-employed rated their lives highly enough to be considered thriving in 2013, on par with the unemployed. By comparison, 25 percent of the population overall and 31 percent of those employed full time for an employer were considered thriving in 2013.”

Most of the self-employed live in some of the poorest places in the world, Gallup found. Highest levels are in:

  • Southeast Asia (28 percent),
  • East Asia (28 percent), and
  • Sub-Saharan Africa (25 percent)

Smaller concentrations:

  • the former Soviet Union (7 percent),
  • European Union (6 percent), and
  • Northern America (5 percent).

Equating business ownership with self-employment doesn’t apply to the nations with high concentrations of self-employed. Those in Australia-New Zealand report the highest business ownership levels — 94 percent. Eight of 10 in North America say they own a business, and in Europe, it’s about three in every four among the self-employed.

But the percent drops quickly after that. For Southeast Asia, the Middle East/North Africa, Sub-Sahara Africa and South Asia, the percent reporting that they own a business hovers around 50 percent. The lowest ownership levels are found in the former Soviet Union (33 percent) and the Balkans (38 percent).

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.