Self-Employment Characteristics

Self-Employment Characteristics

Created Variables

CVC_TTL_JOB_YR_SE. Number of self-employed jobs the respondent has held.

CV_WKSWK_DLI_SE. Number of weeks respondent was self-employed since date of last interview.

CV_HOURS_WK_YR_SE. Total annual hours respondent was self-employed during the year.

Rounds 1-3: Respondents age 16 or older who usually earned $200 or more per week at a freelance job were considered to be self-employed. The survey asked these respondents to report the industry of their job, their occupation, and their usual activities. The most common time of day they worked and the number of people who worked for them in that self-employment job were also collected. If the job ended, respondents stated the reason (e.g., end of seasonal work, quit to return to school, quit to take another job).

Rounds 4-5: The structure of the questionnaire changed for rounds 4 and 5, depending on the respondent's age. Those who were born in 1980-82 for round 4 (1980-83 for round 5) had mostly reached age 18 by the start of the fielding period. This group reported any self-employment (regardless of earnings) along with regular employee jobs and was skipped past the freelance section. Characteristic data for self-employment is like that collected for employee-type jobs, which is described throughout this section. Younger respondents born in 1983-84 for round 4 (1984 only for round 5) continued to list any self-employment (freelance jobs that met earnings criteria) in the freelance section and reported employee jobs separately, as in previous rounds. Characteristic data for these jobs is the same as that collected in rounds 1-3.

Rounds 6 and up: Since all respondents reached age 18 by round 6, they reported any self-employment (regardless of earnings) along with regular employee jobs. Characteristic data for self-employment is like that collected for employee-type jobs, which is described throughout this section. There is no longer a separate freelance section. An expanded set of questions about self employment was added in round 9 and included questions on how the business started, sole proprietorship vs. partnership, number of partners and paid employees, and health insurance coverage. In round 17, additional questions were asked about business ownership, including how the respondent had acquired the business and the year the business originated (see prefix BUSOWN-).

Important Information About Using Self-Employment Data

  1. The transition from the freelance section to the regular employee job section creates a disconnect in unique ID codes. If a respondent had a freelance job at age 16 with enough earnings to qualify as self-employed, and continued that job past his or her 18th birthday, the job appears on the regular employer roster rather than the freelance roster. When the job was in the freelance section, it was assigned a freelance UID. However, these UIDs could not be transferred to the regular employer roster because the numbering system was different. On the other hand, it was misleading to assign a UID from rounds 4 and up, when the self-employed job first appeared on the regular employer roster, because the job was preexisting. So, to indicate that a self-employed job existed during a previous interview, it was assigned a UID of 199999 on the round 4 roster. Beginning in round 4, if a self-employed job was new--it had never been reported in the freelance section--it was assigned a regular UID.
  2. In rounds 1-3, variable YEMP-112800 indicated that a job is classified as self-employment. In rounds 2 and 3, the freelance jobs roster was the best source of information about start and stop dates of self-employment. The roster also contains flags indicating whether the employer was current at the last interview and the current interview, as well as a unique identification code permitting these jobs to be linked across survey rounds.
  3. In rounds 4-5, the freelance roster contained information about self-employment jobs (indicated by variable YEMP-112800) for younger respondents. These were born in 1983-84 for round 4 and in 1984 only for round 5. Self-employment jobs for older respondents (those born in 1980-82 for round 4 and in 1980-83 for round 5) were indicated on the regular employment roster by the variable YEMP_SELFEMP.xx. The respondents answered the same series of employment questions starting in round 6. These questions treated self-employed and employee-type jobs in a similar fashion.

Comparison to Other NLS Surveys: In other NLS cohorts, information about self-employment is collected using the same series of questions as regular jobs. Respondents who are self-employed can be identified by examining the class of worker variables. For more information, refer to the appropriate cohort's User's Guide.

Survey Instruments: Freelance and self-employment information is collected in the employment section of the Youth Questionnaire. Question names begin with YEMP- and roster items begin with YEMP_.

Related User's Guide Sections Employers & Jobs
Main Area of Interest Employment: Self-Employment