Working Paper No. 1200

Avoiding the Housewife Stigma: Self-Employment as a Female Career Choice

Published: February 12, 2018, revised March 2018Pages: 42Keywords: Career choice; Entrepreneurship; Marriage; Self-employment; WomenJEL-codes: J16; J12; J13; J22; L26

Avoiding the Housewife Stigma: Self-Employment as a Female Career Choice Carl Magnus Bjuggren and Magnus Henrekson


This paper investigates career choices of women who marry high-income men. We find that women married to men in the top of the income distribution are more likely to enter self-employment, which is also associated with a lower income. This can be interpreted as a career choice that produces a more flexible work schedule in return for lower income. In a Nordic welfare state where work is the norm for women, self-employment offers a way to avoid the stay-at-home stigma. It allows one to stay in the workforce while enjoying approval from society and being in control of one’s work schedule and personal demands.

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