ICA has been accumulating research that provides a 'picture' of what motivates and drives self-employed people and what we ‘look like'. At ICA we collect research from around the globe. There are definite global trends apparent.
This chart gives an overview.
These 2 videos provide interesting and perhaps surprising information on what we 'look like':
What motivates 'us' self-employed people (entrepreneurs)? [2012 research papers]
Independent Contractors are Happier! [2004 Zurich Uni]
Home workers are the hardest workers. (2013)
Roy Morgan Research spotlight on small business (2013)
Independent professionals are productive: IPro survey 2012
Profile: Breakthrough research on Australian micro-business profiling [ICA desk audit 2010]
One-third of working pensioners are self-employed (2013).
Recent profiling of UK self-employed shows an increase of 367,000 while employee numbers are down 430,000.
Around 10% (17m) of US workers are independent contractors: an increase of 1 million in one year.