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Sexual Orientation and Self-Employment: New Evidence

Publication Date: 03/01/2023

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Canadian Review of Sociology

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Vesna Pajovic

Sean Waite

Nicole  Denier 


Early studies and theory suggest sexual minorities are drawn towards the relative independence of self-employment to avoid discrimination in paid employment. However, recent evidence is mixed, suggesting that a higher propensity for self-employment (relative to heterosexual people) is found only among lesbian women relative to heterosexual women. This study overcomes the data limitations of prior research by using data pooled from 2007–2017 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and multivariate logistic regression to provide new evidence on LGB self-employment.

The results show that self-employment is particularly high for bisexual people, especially bisexual women—but not for gay men or lesbian women. Overall, this study examines the enduring but nuanced relationship between self-employment and sexual orientation and discusses countervailing factors related to socio-economic resources, gender, and family structure.