By Tami Gurley-Calvez, Jessica Williams, and Kandice Kapinos
First published January 2020
Older workers are an economically important group as they represent a large and growing portion of the United States workforce. These workers are more likely to experience health conditions that limit their options in terms of the type and amount of work they pursue. Self-employed workers who report a new work-limiting health condition are more likely to remain in the workforce than wage and salary workers who also report a work-limiting health condition. Previous research suggests that self-employment provides more opportunities to accommodate work-limiting health conditions; this report explores whether self-employed workers with work-limiting health conditions report less physically demanding jobs or different hours and weeks worked than wage and salary workers who also report work-limiting health conditions.
Among individuals in the labor force, we generally found no clear patterns of job physicality—how strenuous or physically demanding a job is—between self-employed and wage and salary workers with work-limiting health conditions. There was suggestive evidence that self-employed workers with work-limiting health conditions reported less stooping, lifting, and need for good eyesight, but none of these differences was significant after controlling for other individual and work-related factors.