Survival of the Fittest? An Analysis of Self-Employment Duration in Britain



This paper uses data from the British Household Panel Survey to investigate the duration of self-employment spells in Britain. The results suggest that 40% of self-employment ventures started since 1991 have not survived their first year in business. Evidence is produced showing that a substantial proportion of self-employment spells are not terminated through bankruptcy, but through moves to alternative employment. The fittest, in terms of self-employment survival, are those with no previous unemployment experience but with some work experience, who quit their previous job, and who entered self-employment with some initial capital.