EU Gender gap in self-employment rises with age



Eurostat data show that in the third quarter of 2022, employed men in the EU were more likely to be self-employed than women: 16.1 % of employed men were self-employed compared with 9.4 % of women.

In the third quarter of 2022, the gender gap between people aged 15-64 who were self-employed was the largest among employed people with a low educational level (8.4 percentage point (pp) gap), followed by people with a medium level (7.2 pp gap) or a high level of education (5.8 pp gap).

This gender gap grew with age, with a difference of 5.7 pp for people aged 25-49, which then increased to 9.9 pp for those aged 50-64.


In the same period, 21.3 % of employed men aged 50-64 were self-employed against 14.9 of employed men aged 25-49. Among employed women aged 50-64, 11.3% were self-employed, against 9.2% for women aged 25-49.

Based on educational attainment level, the gender gap for self-employed people was widest (12.4 pp) in the 50-64 years-old group with a low education attainment level, where 23.9% of employed men were self-employed against 11.5% of women.

The gender gap was the smallest in the 25-49 years-old group with a high level of education (4.3 pp): 14.2% of employed men were self-employed, against 9.9% of women.

Widest gender gaps in self-employment in Greece, Malta and Slovakia 

At the country level, the widest gender gaps in self-employment in the third quarter of 2022 were registered in Greece (12.2 pp), Slovakia (11.3 pp) and Malta (10.6 pp), all with values above 10 pp. Other EU members with high values were Poland (9.8 pp), Ireland (9.7 pp) and Italy (9.1 pp).

On the other hand, the shortest gaps were recorded in Cyprus (1.4 pp), Luxembourg (2.2 pp) and Lithuania (3.7 pp).

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Methodological notes:

  • Age group 15-24: data for males and females with a low and high level of education with low reliability. As a result, this age group is not displayed.
  • A self-employed person is the sole or joint owner of the unincorporated enterprise (one that has not been incorporated i.e. formed into a legal corporation) in which they work, unless they are also in paid employment, which is their main activity. In that case, they are considered employees. Unpaid family workers are also considered self-employed.
  • The gender gap in self-employment is calculated as the difference between the share of self-employed males in total male employment and the share of self-employed females in total female employment.
  • Educational attainment levels are classified according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED): low level of education refers to ISCED levels 0-2 (less than primary, primary and lower secondary education), medium to ISCD levels 3 and 4 (upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education) and high to ISCED levels 5-8 (tertiary education). The level of educational attainment means the highest level of education successfully completed.