The landscape of zzp'ers in the Netherlands

There are as many as 1.2 million people in the Netherlands who are self-employed without personnel (zzp'ers). This means that one in eight persons in paid employment earns his or her living as a self-employed person. The position of this sizeable group is causing considerable discussion within the political debate. Back in 2021, it emerged that these discussions were often held on the basis of incorrect data and misinterpretations. These figures were now due for another update.

Knowledge platform ZiPconomy has therefore, at the request of HeadFirst Group and ONL voor Ondernemers, compiled another report in 2023 with the most up-to-date figures and developments regarding the self-employed population in the Netherlands. The aim of this revised edition is unchanged: to chart the diverse group of self-employed people and to elevate the self-employed dossier, and thus the labor market debate, to a higher level. Thanks to the insights from this report, misconceptions about the self-employed are a thing of the past.

Some new insights from this report include the following:

  • The vast majority of the self-employed provide services (own labor). The number of self-employed people selling products decreased. Over a tenth of the employed labor force is self-employed own labor. In 2013, the figure was 8.2%.
  • More than half of the self-employed are men. The proportion of women is rising, but this is still nowhere near as evenly distributed as among employees. Almost half of the self-employed are between the ages of 35-55.
  • Almost half of the self-employed have a college education or higher. Remarkably, female self-employed workers are more often higher educated than men.
  • The largest category of self-employed workers is the group providing "specialized business services. Followed by health and welfare, construction and IT. Most of the self-employed who supply their own labor to organizations have four or more clients.
  • The vast majority of self-employed workers (83%) are (very) satisfied with their work situation. Among employees, this percentage is 78%. Direction over the working day is most often mentioned as a motive for becoming self-employed in 2023.

The findings in this report are largely based on results from 2013 to 2023 from TNO's Self-Employment Survey (ZEA) and Statistics Netherlands (CBS). The emphasis here is on self-employment. Curious about all the details and insights? Download the report on the website of our parent organization HeadFirst Group.