Over the past two decades, the number of self-employed in Germany has risen dramatically. This is almost exclusively due to an increasing number of self-employed persons without employees (solo entrepreneurs). There has been a particularly marked escalation in the number of self-employed women. Although some solo entrepreneurs command high incomes, the average earnings of this section of the workforce are less than those of employed people. Many do not earn any more than employees in the low-pay sector. Although the proportion of low earners among solo entrepreneurs has fallen since the middle of the last decade, it still accounts for almost a third of them, or around 800,000 people. Solo self-employment is frequently only a temporary form of employment. Most solo entrepreneurs who cease trading take up dependent employment. This may be partly because self-employment originally only represented a stopgap for them in the absence of alternative employment opportunities. The meager income to be earned through self-employment might also play a role.