Freelance work and financial well-being : a literature review and research agenda

Kitching, John and Iskandarova, Marfuga (2019) Freelance work and financial well-being : a literature review and research agenda. In: RENT XXXIII: Embracing uncertainty: entrepreneurship as a key capability for the 21st century; 27 - 29 Nov 2019, Berlin, Germany. (Unpublished)


Freelance workers, defined as own-account workers who work alone (or with co-owning partners or directors), but do not employ others, are the predominant form of business enterprise in the EU. This paper presents a review of research investigating the connections between freelance work and financial well-being and proposes a research agenda that conceptualises financial well-being (or the lack of it) as both cause and consequence of freelance working. Many freelance workers are likely to suffer from the liability of size because they lack substantial financial assets to protect them against the economic risks arising from engaging in business trading in a market economy. Individuals experience a ‘precarious freedom’ in taking up and sustaining freelance work careers. Freelancers are free to take decisions regarding how, when and for whom to work, but also bear the risk of generating a sufficient flow of clients and income to provision an acceptable livelihood for themselves and their families. We bring together a fragmented literature, drawing on a range of academic, practitioner and policymaker sources to distinguish three categories of economic risk arising out of the condition of precarious freedom that characterises freelance work: income adequacy; income volatility; and social protection.

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