Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Self-Employment among Same-Sex and Opposite-Sex Couples in Canada: Sexual Orientation and Self-Employment in Canada

Document type Article
Author Denier, Nicole
Author Waite, Sean
Journal Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue canadienne de sociologie
Volume 53
Date 2016 05
ISSN 1755-6171
Pages 143-175


This study presents novel evidence on the relationship between sexual orientation and self‐employment. Using data from the 2001 and 2006 Census of Canada and the 2011 Canadian National Household Survey, we explore the propensity for self‐employment among same‐ and opposite‐sex couples. We examine the demographic, human capital, and family characteristics of coupled gay men and lesbians relative to their coupled heterosexual counterparts to offer potential mechanisms generating differences in rates of self‐employment. Our analysis further considers occupational variability in the likelihood of self‐employment. We find that gay men are less likely and lesbians more likely than heterosexuals to be self‐employed; however, there is significant variation across occupations. Gay men are more likely to be self‐employed in arts and culture, sales and service, and natural and applied sciences, but less likely in business, finance, and health‐related occupations. Lesbians are much more likely to be self‐employed in health‐related occupations, natural and applied sciences, and arts and culture. Marriage and having children are significant predictors of self‐employment for coupled heterosexual women but not lesbians.