Gender, Race, and Family: Is Self-Employment a Solution for Work and Family Conflict for All Women?

Sandra Florian , Institut National d'Etudes Démographiques (INED)
Cécile Fonrouge, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières

Research indicates that family responsibilities deter women’s employment. Self-employment has been portrayed as a solution for women to integrate work and family demands. The “mumpreneurship” literature suggests that children increase female self-employment by encouraging mothers to create their own ventures to procure the independence and flexibility that wage labor lacks. Although mumpreneurship has been portrayed as a universal phenomenon, that is, applying to all women, most of the evidence has been based on data for white women or small qualitative studies. This study examines the extent to which the mumpreneurship thesis can be applied to racial/ethnic minorities and immigrant women in the U.S. using recent data from the Current Population Survey. We found that marriage and children encourage wage employment and self-employment for all men and native Black women, but discourage employment for all other women. We find strong evidence for the mumpreneurship thesis among native-born white mothers, for whom self-employment constitutes a preferred alternative over wage employment. For all other racial minority and immigrant women, children do not seem to facilitate female entrepreneurship. The findings suggest that mumpreneurship, as a strategy for combining work and family responsibilities, has been overstated, representing mainly the experiences of white women, but not so those of racial minority and immigrant women.

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 Presented in Session P3. Poster Session Migration, Economics, Environment, Methods, History and Policy