Where do self-employed women earn more than men? Estonia

AppJobs has analysed OECD data to show the countries that have the highest percentage of self-employed women, as well as revealing the pay difference self-employed men and women receive, on average, in each country. You can view the graphic here.

self-employed women

Self-employment is immensely important for countries as it has the ability to drive economic development, change the way we live, and challenge social inequalities. Research from ISE revealed that the solo self-employed sector contributed £275bn to the UK economy in 2018.

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AppJobs has also conducted a survey to 1,000 people in the UK to find out the nation’s thoughts on the biggest attractions and fears of becoming self-employed.

The results show that women across the world are a lot less likely to become self-employed than men, but which countries have the highest number of self-employed females?

Turkey takes the crown as the country with the highest percentage of female self-employment with 34.6% of women being self-employed. Mexico comes in second place with 31.8% followed by Greece in third with 28.4% of self-employed women.

Despite Turkey leading the way, the figures for female self-employment sit low, highlighting the efforts needed to improve this imbalance. The survey results reflect the perceptions of becoming self-employed with 27.7% believing it is easier to be self-employed as a man.

New Zealand, Netherlands, Switzerland and Poland feature in the top 10 countries with the highest number of self-employed women.

The table below reveals which other countries have the highest percentage of self-employed women:

Ranking  Country Percentage of self-employed women 
1. Turkey 34.6
2. Mexico 31.8
3. Greece 28.4
4. Chile 25.6
5. South Korea 22.6
6. Italy 16.9
7. Poland 16.1
8. New Zealand 14.6
9. Netherlands 13.2
10. Switzerland 12.6

Self-employed women vs men pay gap in each country

Whilst the awareness of the gender pay gap has increased, more work needs to be done for self-employed women. The results reveal that the self-employed gender pay gap is far larger than the wage difference between male and female employees.

The top 5 countries leading the way with the smallest gender pay gap are:

  1. Estonia: -16% (the gender pay gap in favour of women)
  2. Denmark: 7%
  3. Luxembourg: 9%
  4. Sweden: 10%
  5. Lithuania: 13%

Estonia is the only country analysed where self-employed women earn more than men - the pay gap in women's favour is revealed at 16%. The likes of Denmark, Luxembourg, and Sweden are also leading the way to equality for self-employed women, with the pay gap falling at 10% and under.

In the UK however, a significant amount of work needs to be done, as self-employed men are earning on average 33% more than self-employed women. The figures worsen further in the US, where the gender pay gap widens to 56% - the joint last position with Poland. The survey also highlighted the desire to be self-employed sat more with men than women, as 13.1% of men aspire to be self-employed, and just 9.1% of females.

Iwona Polog, Head of Growth from AppJobs comments:

“With self-employment providing huge financial and social benefits to our economy and society, it is important we encourage both males and females to pursue their goals, and provide the information and awareness around working for yourself that may be putting people off taking the leap into self-employment.”

“It is great to see the likes of Estonia leading the way to remove the self-employed gender pay gap, as well as seeing both Denmark and Luxembourg, who have reduced this difference. These countries set an example to the rest of the world to work on improving the rights and pays of women in the workplace overall and self-employed women specifically.”

self-employed women

gender pay gap



About the Author

Anna Peel
Anna Peel is a professional writer. In the past four years, she has written for many websites including BSC Kids, Wasabi Media Group, Boomtron, and many others. She currently live in Savannah, Georgia and occasionally blogs about fashion during her free time.