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Self-employment and ethnicity: An escape from poverty?

This Viewpoint looks at how self-employment compares, and has changed, across ethnic groups in the UK. Self-employment in the UK has been on the rise for the
past decade. But there is little understanding of what this means for poverty and living standards, and whether it reflects a growing entrepreneurial spirit or poor
employment opportunities.

Self-employment has often been seen as a route to social mobility for ethnic minority groups, which are disproportionately more likely to be affected by poverty. What then should we make of the fact that in several ethnic minority groups self-employment is on the decline, whereas in some it remains high? Policy-makers often promote self-employment as a way of expanding employment opportunities. What does the experience of ethnic minorities tell us about whether this is the right focus for policy?

This paper draws on existing literature, but in particular the extensive quantitative work commissioned and published by the JRF as part of its research programme on poverty and ethnicity.