Self-employment in the United States.
The self-employed represent about ten percent of the American workforce. Challenges to a fuller understanding of self-employment in the United States include the ability to generalize the results of research studies. These analyses seek to clarify issues surrounding their earnings and work satisfaction. A taxonomy based on industry and occupation codes closes gaps in this knowledge. Perspectives that express the importance of an independent middle class or petty bourgeoisie guide multilevel models that investigate the role self-employment can play in mitigating the effects of structural conditions such as high poverty. Using public use microdata sample data from the American Community Survey, I find that the self-employed are by no means a homogenous group of individuals who are engaged in similar kinds of work, the success of those who best their peers is usually not the result of human capital differences, and the best explanation for these differences must therefore lie in the social networks built by these individuals to improve their businesses over time.