In good times and in bad Immigrants, Self-employment and Social insurances

Sammanfattning: This thesis analyses self-employment, sickness absence and early retirement pension among immigrants in Sweden. The empirical analysis investigate a period, 1981-2003, characterized by a transformation from high employment and expansion of the welfare state in the 1980s into a state with high unemployment and tightening social insurance systems during in the 1990s, This thesis goes beyond most previous studies in adopting a regional approach, thereby allowing for an analysis of the importance of local and regional labour market conditions. Using longitudinal register-data over a long time-span also allows us to embrace a life-course perspective following individuals from childhood into adulthood and exploring the importance of early life conditions on sickness absence. This thesis shows that self-employment decision is influenced by local labour market conditions. Interestingly, the mechanism seems to be different in the process of entering and leaving selfemployment. Our findings show that immigrants enter self-employment when local labour demand is improving and leave their business for non-employment in response to deteriorating local labour market conditions. The results in this thesis are consistent with the notion and indications from previous research that the use of the social insurance system in Sweden has not only been related to health, but also influenced by contextual and non-medical factors at regional level, in terms of both local labour market conditions and institutional aspects (e.g. social norms). The results also show that exposure to worse health conditions during the first year of life is associated with the greater likelihood of experiencing sickness absence in adulthood.