Small Business Economics

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 365–390 | Cite as

Where are all the self-employed women? Push and pull factors influencing female labor market decisions

  • Carlianne Patrick
  • Heather Stephens
  • Amanda WeinsteinEmail author


Previous research focuses on factors that influence self-employment participation, in part because entrepreneurship has been associated with economic growth. This literature has tended to focus only on men or the comparison of women to men, while ignoring substantial heterogeneity in employment decisions among women. By investigating the impact of individual, household, and local economic and cultural characteristics on the labor market outcomes of different groups of women, we get a more comprehensive picture of their self-employment decision. Recognizing self-employment as one of multiple labor market choices, we use multinomial logit and two confidential, geocoded micro-level datasets to study women`s career choices in urban areas. We find that the effects of various push and pull factors differ between married and unmarried women. In particular, more progressive gender attitudes pull married women into self-employment, while household burdens associated with children push them into self-employment. For unmarried women, the local business climate and individual characteristics have the strongest influence. In both cases, the motivations for women are quite different than men.


Female labor force participation Self-employment Gender Culture 

JEL Classifications

J22 R23 J70 L26 



This research was supported in part by funding from the Coca-Cola Critical Difference for Women Graduate Studies Research Grant and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University.

Supplementary material

11187_2015_9697_MOESM1_ESM.docx (64 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 63 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlianne Patrick
    • 1
  • Heather Stephens
    • 2
  • Amanda Weinstein
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Economics, Andrew Young School of Policy StudiesGeorgia State UniversityAtlantaUSA
  2. 2.Agricultural and Resource EconomicsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Economics DepartmentUniversity of AkronAkronUSA

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