As self-employed work soars, worker productivity stalls

Worker productivity was largely flat between 2008 and 2018, despite a large increase in the number of hours worked by self-employed people. Business sectors with more self-employed people generally see lower growth in productivity, according to Statistics Netherlands.

The country’s self-employed workforce clocked 2.7 billion hours of Labour in 2018, up from 2.1 billion in 2003. That corresponds to an increase of about 28.5 percent. At the beginning of that period, the self-employed accounted for 17.8 percent of all hours worked in the Netherlands, which rose to over 21 percent in 2106. It has since fallen to about 20.4 percent.

Labour productivity, or “the added value per hour worked,” grew by just 3.9 percent from 2008 to 2018. That represents a sharp contrast against the 20.7 percent of productivity growth measured between 1998 and 2008, Statistics Netherlands said.

One reason for the lower growth is also tied to fewer investments in fixed assets, and also the aging population. The statistics bureau noted the volume of academic research that shows that worker productivity soars early in a career before stagnating, and sometimes even decreasing, at the end of a career.