The dominance of the public sector, inappropriate macro-economic policies, market distortions, large-scale or capital intensive biases in national economic and sectoral policies, and deficiencies in the legal and institutional framework governing private economic activity all lead to inefficient resource use and a relatively low level of self-employment. In particular, there is substantial untapped potential for an increase in the more productive forms of self-employment in the economies of eastern Europe, in some other industrialized countries, and in many developing countries. Women are increasingly seeking self-employment, often as a response to the lack of job opportunities in the public and private sector resulting from recession and restructuring.
While 84% of Europeans in work were salaried employees in 1999, nearly 20% would rather have been self-employed, although nearly 40% would have found this unacceptable. Those that were self-employed at that time included more men than women and their average age was higher than in the case of salaried employees. Self-employed people worked longer hours - over 48 hours a week as compared to less than 38 hours for salaried employees. Nearly two-thirds of the self-employed worked in the services sector.