Nonprofit self-employment

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Bubba posts

I am currently finishing a working paper discussing the population ecology of my hometowns nonprofit sector. Today I presented some preliminary results and the question came up whether nonprofit self-employment is a good proxy for nonprofit entrepreneurship in the region? This is indeed an interesting question but very difficult to handle. So many nonprofits are small and never register (until last year organizations with less than $25,000 didn’t even have to report to the IRS), some stay in the nascent stage for years, and there are a lot of nonprofit zombies that still roam the streets. Self-employment is often used by economists as an entrepreneurship measure but even in the for-profit domain this is not without issues. Perhaps the most knowledgeable scholar I know when it comes to nonprofit demise and death is Mark Hager (here is a list of his publications) and his research shows how difficult it is to get reliable data on nonprofit self-employment. Still, an additional issue to consider is to what extent this type of nonprofit entrepreneurship impacts economic growth and development in a region.



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