Trends in Gross Domestic Product and Self-employment of Unincorporated Enterprises in the Canadian Economy, 1987 to 2005 - ARCHIVED

Articles and reports: 11-624-M2009024


This paper investigates the evolution of the unincorporated sector using the number of self-employed and gross domestic product (GDP), in that sector over the period 1987 to 2005.

Self-employment studies have analyzed various characteristics of self-employed workers, including age, sex, immigration status and education, but have generally lacked measures of GDP associated with unincorporated self-employment. This study redresses the lack of economic data, and estimates GDP by industry arising from unincorporated self-employment. This paper updates the 1997 - 2002 estimates of unincorporated GDP derived by Rispoli (2009).

The paper also examines how unincorporated self-employment responded to both overall economic trends and business cycles. The rate of unincorporated self-employment was positively correlated to the unemployment rate in the long run.

The paper also looks at incorporated self-employment. (Close to one million self-employed were incorporated in 2005). It investigates its relationship to the same macroeconomic conditions to determine if incorporated self-employment has a profile similar to unincorporated self-employment. Previous self-employment studies have typically treated self-employment as a homogeneous group. This paper examines the differences between the two groups and finds that they react differently to macroeconomic conditions.

Incorporated self-employment grew substantially between 1987 and 1999 (averaging 3.8% per year), and continued to grow between 2000 and 2005 (averaging 4.1% per year). The evidence suggests that a shift in self-employment did not occur from unincorporated enterprises to corporations, but that different forces were at work in the two sectors. Over the long run, the unincorporated self-employment rate is positively correlated to the unemployment rate. In contrast, the incorporated self-employment rate is not related to changes in the unemployment rate, but is positively correlated to overall GDP growth.

Issue Number: 2009024
Author(s): Rispoli, Luke
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HTMLSeptember 10, 2009
PDFSeptember 10, 2009