World Facts

Countries By Self-Employment Rate

For many, self-employment is both a blessing and a curse, and a world filled with prospects of high risk and high returns.

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When an individual works for himself or herself to earn household income and does not work for another person or company, this is self-employment. Many people consider this the ultimate dream come true, and they strive to prove their ability to self-manage, set personal schedules and create a work-life balance. However, self-employment may be indicative of less than ideal economic conditions. Several countries have a particularly high rate of self-employment. Typically, high self-employment rates are evidence of lower per-capita income and denote stagnant or declining economies. The countries with the top ten rates of self-employment are detailed below.

Countries with the Highest Rates of Self-Employment

The country with the highest rate of self-employment, according to the World Bank, is Burundi. Burundi is a developing country found in the Great Lakes region of Africa. The main economic activity in Burundi is farming, which may explain why the country has such a high rate of self-employment. 

Chad has a self-employment rate estimated at 91.83%. Like Burundi, most of Chad's population relies heavily on farming. However, the landlocked country has chronic problems with drought. 

Guinea, a small country in West Africa, also boasts a high self-employment rate. Like the other mentions on this list, this has more to do with necessity than preference. Like the other countries on this list, most people in Guinea work on farms. 

Implications of High Self-Employment Rates

The impacts of high self-employment rates are many. It signals a failing and underdeveloped economy. Individuals who choose self-employment often do so to cope with the poor economy and the ensuing increase in unemployment, thus suggesting self-employment could be a temporary relief. As countries move away from agriculture and expand in advanced technology industries, self-employment rates tend to decline. In the meantime, governments could take advantage of its economy boosting potential by including educational and training programs as part of economic policy and planning.

Which Countries Have the Most Self-Employed People?

Countries with the most self-employment include Paraguay, Iran, Greece, Panama, and Romania.

10 Countries With The Highest Rates Of Self-Employment

Rank´╗┐CountrySelf-Employment Rate (%)
1Burundi93.27
2Chad91.83
3Guinea91.57
4Sierra Leone89.97
5Madagascar89.38
6Niger89.32
7Benin89.16
8Mali88.76
9Ethiopia88.65
10Mozambique88.64

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