Please update your browser

You're using a version of Internet Explorer that isn't supported by Questia.
To get a better experience, go to one of these sites and get the latest
version of your preferred browser:

Problems and Prospects of Self-Employment as an Economic Independence Option for Welfare Recipients

By Raheim, Salome | Social Work, January 1997 | Go to article overview

Problems and Prospects of Self-Employment as an Economic Independence Option for Welfare Recipients


Raheim, Salome, Social Work


As the welfare reform debate rages, it is important for social workers to participate fully in the debate by advocating programs and policies that will improve the material well-being of poor families. Social workers can provide effective leadership in changing social welfare policy only when they are informed about a wide range of policy and program options and their consequences. Self-employment development is among the policy options that merit attention.

Social policymakers have begun to explore self-employment development, also known as microenterprise, as a route off welfare, but the profession of social work has paid little attention to this economic independence option. With the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-193), it is important for social workers to understand the benefits and the limits of self-employment development. With this knowledge, social workers can more effectively influence the shaping welfare reform in the states.

Self-Employment and Disadvantaged Groups

Many people who are poor, unemployed, or socially marginal may pursue self-employment or informal sector activities because jobs are not available, not accessible, or not adequate in providing a living wage. For poor women, barriers such as the lack of child care and transportation, as well as little education and few job skills, further limit their employment opportunities (Hagen & Lurie, 1993; Miller, 1990). Although women must frequently deal with competing family and employment responsibilities, employment options for poor women rarely offer the ability to control their time to adequately handle the dual roles of parent and employee (Keeley, 1990; Raheim & Bolden, 1995).

For recent immigrant and refugee populations, other kinds of obstacles exist. Language and other cultural barriers may make mainstream employment inaccessible. Discrimination and labor market segregation often limit employment opportunities for immigrants and refugees, people of color, and women. For members of marginalized and oppressed groups, self-employment can provide a level of freedom and flexibility, as well as an option for earning a living wage, that the labor market may not provide (Keeley, 1990; Raheim & Bolden, 1995).

Unfortunately, the same factors that encourage members of marginalized groups to pursue self-employment may contribute to their economic marginalization as entrepreneurs (Brush, 1990; Keeley, 1990; Light, 1972). For some families, self-employment is their sole source of support. For others, income from informal sector activities is an important part of the family's total income package, which may include income from jobs or welfare benefits (Clark & Huston, 1993). A recent study by Spalter-Roth, Soto, and Zandniapour (1994) based on the 1984, 1986, 1987, and 1988 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation revealed that over 100,000 women were supporting their families through a combination of self-employment income and welfare benefits. In addition, almost 500,000 former welfare recipients were supporting themselves through self-employment.

Barriers to Self-Employment

Despite the number of low-income people engaged in self-employment activities, numerous barriers exist to starting and operating a viable business for people receiving public assistance.

The primary obstacles are lack of business knowledge and skills, lack of access to capital and other resources, social welfare policy barriers, and psychosocial barriers.

Lack of Business Knowledge and Skills

The ability to start and operate a profitable business has been linked to business knowledge and skills, such as finance and marketing, as well as previous employment experience (Brush, 1990). When microentrepreneurs do not have the knowledge and skills needed to operate effectively and efficiently in the marketplace, their businesses may not generate sufficient income to support themselves and their families.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Problems and Prospects of Self-Employment as an Economic Independence Option for Welfare Recipients
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.