Motherhood, Marriage, and Entrepreneurship in Cross-National Perspective

Michelle J. Budig, University of Massachusetts
Misun Lim, University of Massachusetts
Irene Boeckmann, University of Massachusetts
Chantal Newkirk, University of Massachusetts

Women's participation in self-employment in the US is profoundly shaped by family responsibilities. This may be due to the absence of employment supports for mothers of young children that make dependent employment and family responsibilities compatible. Using longitudinal panel data for 15 countries with contextual data on social policies and cultural indicators, we examine how individual and country level factors shape women's and men's entrepreneurship across different welfare state contexts. We find that families shape self-employment participation in multiple ways. Coupled self-employment is common with women and men joining spouses as entrepreneurs. Small children increase women's likelihood of self-employment across the majority of countries, though older children have the opposite effect. The positive effects of small children on self-employment are particularly strong for female professionals workers. Protections from unwarranted dismissal reduce the effect of small children on self-employment, while public sector size is amplifies the negative effect of older children.

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Presented in Session 36: Family Policy across the World