Category Archives: Irish self-employment

12/6/19: Irish Self-Employment Data: What It Says About the Entrepreneurial Nation


Official Ireland is quick to promote Irish indigenous entrepreneurship as evidence of a diversified economy, with domestic risk-takers bent on capturing international markets with new, innovation-intensive and modern goods and services. The reality, of course, is somewhat different. In 2017, based on the IMF estimate, sales of iPhones (not physically manufactured in Ireland at all) accounted for 25% of the state's GDP growth. And, on the other side, domestic self-employment, the cradle of entrepreneurship, has been on a decline.

Here are the latest statistics and trends:


Share of Irish labour force participants in employment that were engaged in self-employment has declined, on trend, from the late 1990, as did the share of those in self-employment with employees has been down-trending since around 2000-2001.  Some might think that the trend is driven by the self-employed construction workers, but that is not the case, since they bump in share of all self-employed run below the trend line in 2003-2006, and many of these workers exited employment in the crisis.

What about self-employed as the share of overall relevant (age 15 and older) population? Similar trends:

Current total self-employment share in overall population is on-trend, and that trend is down, not up. Self employment with employees trend is similar.

So about that entrepreneurship, and about the claims that the younger generations are becoming even more entrepreneurial, and about all those universities and ITs offering vast arrays of entrepreneurship programs, and about the preaching of entrepreneurial ethos and values... ahem...