The importance of housing for self-employment

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2016


This article demonstrates that housing influences decisions to start businesses or become self-employed. Housing characteristics can facilitate or hinder business start-ups, and the mechanisms depend on whether the business start-up takes place in people’s homes or not. Hitherto, economic geography has largely viewed housing as a system that accommodates and filters the workforce across space and neglected that housing is an economic resource to individuals. Using longitudinal microdata for the United Kingdom and a sample that accounts for the endogeneity of housing to employment/entrepreneurship, the study finds that home-based self-employment is facilitated by housing wealth, outright ownership, detached houses, and large dwellings and is undermined by living in flats. Private rented accommodation enables entries into self-employment that are not based in people’s homes. Housing thus provides financial security and space, on the one hand, and shapes flexibility needed for entrepreneurship, on the other hand. Areas for future research arising from this study relate to the role of housing over the individual entrepreneur’s life course and area effects on entrepreneurship and self-employment that relate to the spatial variation of housing supply.

Published in

Economic Geography

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 92 , p.378 -400






Open Access article

© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group, on behalf of Clark University

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.



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