Small Business Economics

, Volume 48, Issue 4, pp 1047–1069 | Cite as

Self-employment amongst migrant groups: new evidence from England and Wales

  • Ken Clark
  • Stephen Drinkwater
  • Catherine Robinson


Self-employment constitutes a vital part of the economy since entrepreneurs can provide employment not only for themselves but also for others. The link between self-employment and immigration is, however, complex, especially given the changing nature of self-employment. We investigate the evolving relationship between self-employment and immigration using recently released microdata from the 2011 Census for England and Wales. Our findings indicate large variations, with high self-employment rates observed for some groups with a long established history of migration to the UK (especially men born in Pakistan) and also for some groups who have arrived more recently (such as from the EU’s new member states). We further explore the differences, analyse variations by gender and identify key determining factors. In addition to certain socio-economic characteristics, it is found that migration-related influences, such as English language proficiency and period of arrival in the UK, play an important role for some groups.


Self-employment Entrepreneurship Immigrants United Kingdom 

JEL Classifications

J61 L26 F22 J21 



The Sample of Anonymised Records has been made available by the Cathie Marsh Centre for Census and Survey Research at the University of Manchester via the UK Data Service. We are also grateful for the helpful comments that were provided by two anonymous referees and Rui Baptista (Associate Editor). Useful comments were also received from seminar participants at the University of Roehampton, London. Any errors are the responsibility of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.IZABonnGermany
  3. 3.Business SchoolUniversity of RoehamptonLondonUK
  4. 4.CReAM, UCLLondonUK
  5. 5.University of KentCanterburyUK

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