In good times and in bad Immigrants, Self-employment and Social insurances.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


This thesis analyses self-employment, sickness absence and early retirement pension among
immigrants in Sweden. The empirical analysis investigate a period, 1981-2003, characterized by a
transformation from high employment and expansion of the welfare state in the 1980s into a state with
high unemployment and tightening social insurance systems during in the 1990s, This thesis goes
beyond most previous studies in adopting a regional approach, thereby allowing for an analysis of the
importance of local and regional labour market conditions. Using longitudinal register-data over a
long time-span also allows us to embrace a life-course perspective following individuals from
childhood into adulthood and exploring the importance of early life conditions on sickness absence.

This thesis shows that self-employment decision is influenced by local labour market conditions.
Interestingly, the mechanism seems to be different in the process of entering and leaving selfemployment.
Our findings show that immigrants enter self-employment when local labour demand is
improving and leave their business for non-employment in response to deteriorating local labour
market conditions.

The results in this thesis are consistent with the notion and indications from previous research that the
use of the social insurance system in Sweden has not only been related to health, but also influenced
by contextual and non-medical factors at regional level, in terms of both local labour market
conditions and institutional aspects (e.g. social norms). The results also show that exposure to worse
health conditions during the first year of life is associated with the greater likelihood of experiencing
sickness absence in adulthood.


  • Mats Persson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Economic History
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2015 Sep 25
Print ISBNs978-91-87793-15-8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2015-09-25 Time: 10:15 Place: EC3:211 External reviewer(s) Name: Bratsberg, Bernt Title: professor Affiliation: Frischsenteret, Oslo University ---

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