Declining Search Frictions and Type-of-Employment Choice

Piotr Denderski, Florian Sniekers

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Do more people choose to become self-employed when search frictions decline? The origin story of the gig economy suggests that improvements in communication technologies increase the self-employment rate, while cross-country evidence suggests the opposite. We reconcile conventional wisdom with the data by introducing frictions in labour and goods markets in a new model of self-employment. Declining labour market frictions decrease self-employment, while declining goods market frictions increase self-employment. We study the impact of the most salient recent reduction in frictions - the roll-out of broadband Internet - in a panel of OECD countries. We find that the effect of declining goods market frictions dominates: the arrival of broadband Internet has halted three quarters of the average downward trend in self-employment rates.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTilburg
PublisherCentER, Center for Economic Research
Number of pages59
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2021

Publication series

NameCentER Discussion Paper


  • Self-employment
  • goods markets
  • labour markets
  • search frictions
  • internet
  • matching
  • efficiency


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