Only the lonely? The influence of the spouse on the transition to self-employment

Berkay Özcan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research showed that married individuals are overrepresented among the self-employed. Few studies proposed skill-spillover between the spouses within the marriage as an explanation. This paper deviates from the previous research by exploring different relationship contexts (e.g., cohabitation, being married or divorced, a widow(er) or single) and the role of partner influences under these contexts. It argues that the interaction between gender and relationship status implies variation in not only resources but also constraints, and hence sorts individuals into two different types of self-employment: entrepreneurial self-employment (i.e., incorporated business) and unincorporated self-employment. Using "Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID) 1965-2005" data, results of the competing risk models show that marital status contributes to both types of self-employment transitions, especially for men, but also for women. Cohabitation is a less supportive context for entrepreneurship and a partner's self-employment experience increases only women's likelihood of entering into entrepreneurship. These results suggest that skill-spillover between partners might be context dependent and only in one direction (from men to women).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-492
Number of pages28
JournalSmall Business Economics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Cohabitation
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Family
  • Gender
  • Marriage
  • Occupation choice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Economics and Econometrics


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