Self-employment, public emergency work, industrial cities, Great Depression


Self-employment and public emergency work were frequent reactions to the economic dislocations of the Great Depression. Census data for men show that in urban-industrial centers, self-employment reduced the demand for public emergency work by absorbing displaced workers into the entrepreneurial sector. Census data for women reveal that, in these centers, self-employment and public emergency work coexisted due to mutually beneficial relations between women who were self-employed and those women who worked on government projects. The results suggest that, contrary to popular theoretical and ideological views, there is no inherent conflict between private- and public-sector responses to stagnant labor markets.

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