Freelancers are hard to define, but an estimate of self-employed European freelancers can be reached thanks to a great research report Exploring self-employment in the European Union by Eurofund (published 2017, updated 2021).
There were 32 million self-employed workers, full-time or part-time, within the EU workforce (14% out of 221.7 million). These were divided into five clusters:
Stable own-account workers (3.8% of the EU workforce) seem to be a good approximation for freelancers:
“Nearly all like being self-employed and do not find it hard to bear the responsibility. The bargaining power of the self-employed in this cluster is strong, as they are very likely to have more than one client (93%) and can easily find new ones. … Almost 90% are able to take time off at short notice for private matters.” (abridged)
However, most represented there are Shopkeepers (3.8%), Hairdressers (3.6%), Domestic cleaners and helpers (3.6%), and other professions who are not likely to identify as freelancers. Luckily, the report also states that 9% of the self-employed (1.2% of the EU workforce) identified as doing freelance work.
Conclusion: The number of self-employed freelancers can be estimated roughly between 1.2% and 3.8% of EU workforce.
We monitor countless quality sources on freelancing and choose only the best content to save your time.
Your privacy matters: We won’t share your email address with anyone else and you can cancel your subscription anytime. Also, we do not store anyone’s IP address nor do we track who opens and reads our newsletter.