Small Business Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 297–309 | Cite as

Self-employment of older Americans: do recessions matter?

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


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.


Entrepreneurship Recession Older Americans Economics of gender Unemployment 

JEL classifications

L26 J14 J16 



We thank participants at the Small Business, Entrepreneurship, and Economic Recovery: A Focus on Job Creation and Economic Stabilization Conference for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amelia M. Biehl
    • 1
  • Tami Gurley-Calvez
    • 2
  • Brian Hill
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsUniversity of Michigan—FlintFlintUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health Policy and ManagementUniversity of Kansas Medical CenterKansas CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Economics and FinanceSalisbury UniversitySalisburyUSA

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