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Women’s Self-employment in Poland: A Strategy for Combining Work and Childcare?

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Name of the Asset | Women’s Self-employment in Poland: A Strategy for Combining Work and Childcare?
Type of Asset | Working Paper
Date | June 2013


The reconciliation of work and family has become an important topic in economic and demographic research in response to the threat as a result of populations aging. This issue has been explored in numerous empirical studies, most of which investigated the macro- and micro level relationships between fertility and women’s employment. This study focuses on Poland. It investigates whether self-employment, which generally offers greater flexibility with respect to the hours and place of work, is chosen by women in Poland in order to achieve a better balance between paid work and family.

The study uses a mixed method approach, using both semi-structured interviews and statistical analyses. It investigates women's self-employment choices in relation to childbearing and childrearing. It also investigates the direction of the relationship by analyzing whether self-employment encourages childbearing, or whether motherhood leads women to choose a more flexible form of employment. Finally, it accounts for the selection of mothers into the group of self-employed due to time-constant unobserved characteristics.

Results show that self-employment does not affect women's fertility decisions, but it can become an attractive option for women after they have children because of the flexibility it offers. The study supports the general view that self-employment is perceived by women as offering more flexibility and greater scope for balancing work and family life. Nevertheless, an important conclusion of the study is that self-employment does not seem to be either the first, nor the most favored choice for women. It is, rather, an alternative to being unemployed, or to being in a bad job. Entrepreneurship is not the most attractive option for women; it is simply better than being in an insecure, stressful, demanding, and inflexible job; or it is better than being a housewife. Given these findings, promoting self-employment might have a positive impact on the labor force participation of mothers.


  • Anna Matysiak (Warsaw School of Economics, Institute of Statistics and Demography, Warsaw, Poland)
  • Monika Mynarska (Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Institute of Psychology, Warsaw, Poland)

Country and/or Region | Poland
Name of the Program | Regional Research Competition
Funder(s) | The CERGE-EI Foundation


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