Head to Estonia should you wish to earn more than men as a self-employed woman

Jonathan Boyd
Head to Estonia should you wish to earn more than men as a self-employed woman

Analysis of OECD data by AppJobs suggests that Estonia is the only country where self-employed women earn more than men - among countries with the highest proportion of female self-employment.

In other, perhaps surprising results, Turkey, Mexico and Greece are identified as the countries with the highest proportion of female self-employment - easily surpassing New Zealand, which was the first country to give women the vote back in 1893.

AppJobs cites research - such as that from ISE  indicating that the self-employed sector contributed £275bn to the UK economy in 2018 - pointing to the the importance of vibrant self-employment. Reducing the ability for women to become self-employed will therefore impact economic development.

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


Further down the rankings, the US, which makes much of its ability to foster entrepreneurs, gains a score of just 5.2%, which is roughly half of that of the UK, which is in 15th place.

Pay gap

Frequency of self-employment is only part of the story: self-employed women generally earn less than self-employed men.

In this ranking, there is a different set of countries leading the way.

Country Gender pay gap in percentage
Estonia -16 (pay gap in favour of women)
Denmark 7
Luxembourg 9
Sweden 10
Lithuania 13

Again, the US lags, with the gender pay gap estimated at 56%, in joint last position with Poland.

Iwona Polog, head of Growth from AppJobs said: "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 females specifically."

Women in Investment Festival

The Women in Investment Festival, in partnership with sister publications Professional Pensions, Professional Adviser, Retirement Planner and Investment Week, is a one-day festival that seeks to serve as a beacon for the benefits of a truly diverse industry for all, whatever gender, colour or creed. Although it will naturally talk to and celebrate the achievements of women, we also believe we should showcase the role men play in the equation, and highlight examples of best practice where their support is helping to drive change for true gender equality.

It takes place on Tuesday 3 March 2020 at the Brewery in London, UK and we are currently running a discounted super early bird ticket price. Head over to the website here for full details.


Jonathan Boyd
Author spotlight

Jonathan Boyd

Editorial Director of Open Door Media Publishing Ltd, and Editor of InvestmentEurope.