The desire to be self-employed decreasing in the Netherlands

In 2012, the percentage of Dutch people who said they would prefer to be self-employed was 31%, compared to a European average of 37%, according to a new report by the European Commission.

From 2009 to 2012, the percentage of Dutch people who said they would prefer to be self-employed decreased from 42% to 31%, compared to a decrease from 45% to 37% within the EU as a whole. This trend is similar in China and the US, and is attributed by the report to the current economic climate and people's increasing desire for secure employment.

People's interest in self-employment varies greatly between EU Member States. It is highest in Lithuania (58%) and Greece (50%) and lowest in Sweden (22%) and Finland (24%); self-employment is also not very popular in Norway (23%) or Japan (23%).

Men are much more likely than women to prefer to be self-employed (42% vs. 33%), and younger people are also more likely to prefer to be self-employed (45% of 15-24 year olds) than those in older age groups (~36%).

Regarding obstacles to starting a business, 43% of Europeans cite the fear of bankruptcy, while 33% cite the risk of irregular income as their main reason to fear starting their own business. While 51% of Europeans say that it is difficult to get enough information about starting a business, in the Netherlands just 20% cite this as an obstacle.

When asked if entrepreneurs take advantage of other people’s work, answers varied widely within the EU. In the Netherlands, the percentage of people who believe this rose from 53% in 2009 to 75% in 2012.

Note that this is the second highest increase within the EU over this time period (behind Latvia).

The desire among Dutch people to be self-employed is decreasing at the same time that self-employment is rising within the Netherlands, indicating that self-employment is an act of necessity more than anything else.

Companies increasingly hiring freelancers to do employee's work would seem to be the cause of the aforementioned resentment towards entrepreneurs.

More about the report
The European Commission has been studying the development of entrepreneurship in EU Member States for over a decade. The aforementioned report is based on the 2012 edition of the survey entitled "Flash Eurobarometer No 354: Entrepreneurship in the EU and beyond."

The report covers the 27 EU Member States, as well as 13 countries from outside the EU. You can read the full press release, and download a copy of the country report for the Netherlands (in English).

Carly Blair


Carly Blair



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