Wieteke Séphier Conen

In-work poverty among self-employed and non-standard workers in Europe: Working multiple jobs as a survival strategy

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In-work poverty is considered a pressing social issue in Europe. Despite the growing concern with in-work poverty, however, it remains a relatively under-examined topic – particularly in relation to developments in atypical work and multiple jobholding. This paper presents an analysis of in-work poverty among various types of workers in Europe, based on data from the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions. The study finds that in-work poverty rates are higher for employees with temporary contracts and self-employed workers than for employees with permanent contracts. However, self-employed have a higher poverty risk than employees with temporary contracts using the relative income method, but a lower in-work poverty risk using the subjective poverty method. This finding may be related to the non-trivial problems that come with objective income statistics for the self-employed. Furthermore, in-work poverty rates were in 2016 higher than in 2006 for various types of workers, though the increase seems particularly marked among self-employed workers. Multiple jobholding lowers the risk of in-work poverty for all types of workers, though particularly for self-employed workers the odds of being poor seem to be lower for those who combine multiple jobs. The findings demonstrate the merits and drawbacks of different in-work poverty methods and measures, and points to the importance of a better understanding of poverty profiles of self-employed workers in particular.


  • In-work poverty
  • moonlighting
  • multiple job holding
  • non-standard work
  • self-employment


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