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Horatio Alger Meets the Mobility Tables

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  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin
  • Harvey S. Rosen
  • Robert Weathers

Abstract

The question of how entrepreneurship relates to income mobility is cogent given the current public debate about the sources of income inequality and mobility in United States society. We examine how experience with entrepreneurship has affected an individual's place in the earnings distribution. Our basic tack is to follow individuals' positions in the income distribution over time, and to see how their mobility (or lack thereof) was affected by involvement with entrepreneurship. Our main finding is that for low-income individuals there is some merit to the notion that the self-employed moved ahead in the earnings distribution relative to those who remained wage earners. On the other hand, for those at the upper end of the earnings distribution, those who became self-employed often advanced less in the earnings distribution than their salaried counterparts.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7619.

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Date of creation: Mar 2000
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Publication status: published as Small Business Economics, edited by Zoltan J. Acs and David B. Audretch, vol. 14, no.4, pp.243-274, June, 2000. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7619

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  1. Victor R. Fuchs, 1982. "Self-Employment and Labor Force Participation of Older Males," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 17(3), pages 339-357.
  2. Palme, Mårten, 1994. "Earnings Mobility and Distribution: Comparing Statistical Models on Swedish Data," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 7, Stockholm School of Economics.
  3. Vincenzo Quadrini, 1997. "Entrepreneurship, saving and social mobility," Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics 116, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Aaberge, Rolf & Björklund, Anders & Jäntti, Markus & Palme, Mårten & Pedersen, Peder & Smith, Nina & Wennemo, Tom, 1996. "Income Inequality and Income Mobility in the Scandinavian Countries Compared to the United States," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 98, Stockholm School of Economics, revised Aug 2002.
  5. Moshe Buchinsky & Jennifer Hunt, 1999. "Wage Mobility In The United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(3), pages 351-368, August.
  6. Bruce D. Meyer, 1990. "Why Are There So Few Black Entrepreneurs?," NBER Working Papers 3537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  8. Sarachek, Bernard, 1978. "American Entrepreneurs and the Horatio Alger Myth," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 439-456, June.
  9. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
  10. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  11. Brown, James N & Light, Audrey, 1992. "Interpreting Panel Data on Job Tenure," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 10(3), pages 219-57, July.
  12. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1993. "Sticking it Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 4494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Jaeger, David A. & Stevens, Ann Huff, 1999. "Is Job Stability in the United States Falling?," IZA Discussion Papers 35, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. Peter Gottschalk & Timothy M. Smeeding, 1997. "Cross-National Comparisons of Earnings and Income Inequality," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 633-687, June.
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