Predictors of Early-Career Self-Employment among Millennials in the Digital Economy: The Role of The Great Recession

AbstractIn today’s digital economy, millennials seek flexibility and task significance, making self-employment an attractive career option. Although millennials are growing to become the largest generation in the United States workforce, evidence is scant regarding what drives their self-employment decisions. This study explores predictors of self-employment among early millennials (i.e. those born between 1980 and 1984) in the years before, during, and after The Great Recession. Using a national U.S. database (NLSY97), we find that millennials who were satisfied with their early-career jobs were more likely to become self-employed before the recession, and also after the recession. During the recession, however, our indicator of job satisfaction is non-significant, although the coefficient indicates an inverse relationship. Our results also suggest that higher autonomy (less parental monitoring) during adolescence is positively related to millennials’ self-employment decision in their early-career stage, especially among women and those who grew up in an urban area.


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