Self-Employment among Older Workers

Assistance Programs, Liquidity Constraints and Employment Patterns

by Qian Gu

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Self-employment is an increasingly popular form of employment among older workers. The three papers in this dissertation expand our knowledge base of the self-employment experience at older ages. The first paper documents the largest public and private small business assistance programs in the United States and reviews the evaluation studies conducted on those programs. The second paper finds that workers with a lump-sum distribution option in their pension plans are 27 percent more likely to transition from wage and salary work to self-employment over a two-year period than those without such an option. The third paper compares the employment trajectories of those who are likely using self-employment as a retirement transition with those who are not and identifies the factors that contribute to older workers' survival in self-employment. The analysis indicates that around one-third of self-employed older workers survive six or more years in self-employment and that most of them do not expect to work for longer than six years when they enter self-employment.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Small Business Assistance Programs in the United States: An Analysis of What They Are, How Well They Perform, and How We Can Learn More about Them

  • Chapter Three

    Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Self-Employment: The Case of Older Workers

  • Chapter Four

    Employment Status Trajectories of Self-Employed Older Workers

  • Chapter Five

    Conclusion and Discussion

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in September 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Julie Zissimopoulos (Chair), Lynn Karoly, and Susan Gates.

This publication is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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