IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

The entrepreneurial earnings puzzle: Mismeasurement or real?

Listed author(s):
  • Åstebro, Thomas
  • Chen, Jing
Registered author(s):

    A review of recent evidence on relative earnings from entrepreneurship versus wage work presents a puzzle: why do individuals become entrepreneurs when entrepreneurs on average apparently earn less than employees? After considering several potential explanations, we empirically analyze one: income underreporting by entrepreneurs. Using a nationwide panel survey representing U.S. households over 15years, we estimate that entrepreneurs on average earn 4% less per year than employees. However, after correcting for income underreporting, the mean financial gain to entrepreneurship is positive and large, greater than 42%. However, we show that this estimate is built on some unpalatable model assumptions.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0883902613000372
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Business Venturing.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2014)
    Issue (Month): 1 ()
    Pages: 88-105

    as
    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:29:y:2014:i:1:p:88-105
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jbusvent.2013.04.003
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbusvent

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as
    in new window

    1. Rosen, Sherwin, 1981. "The Economics of Superstars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(5), pages 845-858, December.
    2. Christoph Kneiding & Alexander S. Kritikos, 2011. "Funding Self-Employment: The Role of Consumer Credit," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1179, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Kidd, M.P., 1990. "Immigrant Wage Differentials And The Role Of Self- Employment In Australia," Papers 1990-07, Tasmania - Department of Economics.
    4. Thomas Åstebro & Jing Chen & Peter Thompson, 2011. "Stars and Misfits: Self-Employment and Labor Market Frictions," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 57(11), pages 1999-2017, November.
    5. Tedds, Lindsay, 2007. "Estimating the Income Reporting Function for the Self-Employed," MPRA Paper 4212, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Naomi E. Feldman & Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Estimating tax noncompliance with evidence from unaudited tax returns," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 327-352, 03.
    7. C. Praag & Peter Versloot, 2007. "What is the value of entrepreneurship? A review of recent research," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 351-382, December.
    8. Hyytinen, Ari & Rouvinen, Petri, 2008. "The labour market consequences of self-employment spells: European evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 246-271, April.
    9. Thomas Astebro & Peter Thompson, 2011. "Entrepreneurs, Jacks of all trades or Hobos?," Post-Print hal-00596877, HAL.
    10. Arabsheibani, Gholamreza & de Meza, David & Maloney, John & Pearson, Bernard, 2000. "And a vision appeared unto them of a great profit: evidence of self-deception among the self-employed," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 35-41, April.
    11. Hyytinen, Ari & Ilmakunnas, Pekka & Toivanen, Otto, 2013. "The return-to-entrepreneurship puzzle," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 57-67.
    12. Blanchflower, David G. & Shadforth, Chris, 2007. "Entrepreneurship in the UK," Foundations and Trends(R) in Entrepreneurship, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 257-364, July.
    13. Earle, John S. & Sakova, Zuzana, 2000. "Business start-ups or disguised unemployment? Evidence on the character of self-employment from transition economies," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 575-601, September.
    14. Puri, Manju & Robinson, David T., 2007. "Optimism and economic choice," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 71-99, October.
    15. Berglann, Helge & Moen, Espen R & Roed, Knut & Skogstrøm, Jens Fredrik, 2009. "Entrepreneurship: Origins and Returns," CEPR Discussion Papers 7360, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Augustin Landier & David Thesmar, 2009. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs," Post-Print hal-00461106, HAL.
    17. Herb J. Schuetze, 2002. "Profiles of Tax Non-compliance Among the Self-Employed in Canada: 1969 to 1992," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 28(2), pages 219-237, June.
    18. Taylor, Mark P, 1996. "Earnings, Independence or Unemployment: Why Become Self-Employed?," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 58(2), pages 253-266, May.
    19. Kawaguchi, D., 2001. "Human Capital Accumulation of Salaried and Self-Employed Workers," ISER Discussion Paper 0530, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
    20. Folta, Timothy B. & Delmar, Frédéric & Wennberg, Karl, 2010. "Hybrid Entrepreneurship," Working Paper Series 825, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    21. Bruno S. Frey & Matthias Benz, "undated". "Being Independent is a Great Thing: Subjective Evaluations of Self-Employment and Hierarchy," IEW - Working Papers 135, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    22. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    23. John E. Jackson & Bogdan W. Mach, 2009. "Job creation, job destruction, labour mobility and wages in Poland, 1988-1998," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 17(3), pages 503-530, 07.
    24. Pedro Albarrán & Raquel Carrasco & Maite Martínez-Granado, 2007. "Inequality for Wage Earners and Self-Employed: Evidence from Panel Data," Working Papers 0734, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    25. Kenneth Clark & Stephen Drinkwater & Derek Leslie, 1998. "Ethnicity and self-employment earnings in Britain 1973-95," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(10), pages 631-634.
    26. Bruce, Donald & Schuetze, Herbert J., 2004. "The labor market consequences of experience in self-employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(5), pages 575-598, October.
    27. Blanchflower, David G., 2000. "Self-employment in OECD countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 471-505, September.
    28. David J. McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 3-42.
    29. Per Engström & Bertil Holmlund, 2006. "Tax Evasion and Self-Employment in a High-Tax Country: Evidence from Sweden," CESifo Working Paper Series 1736, CESifo Group Munich.
    30. Benz, Matthias & Frey, Bruno S., 2008. "The value of doing what you like: Evidence from the self-employed in 23 countries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(3-4), pages 445-455, December.
    31. Erik Hurst & Geng Li & Benjamin Pugsley, 2011. "Are household surveys like tax forms: evidence from income underreporting of the self-employed," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2011-06, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    32. Parker, Simon C, 1999. "The Inequality of Employment and Self-Employment Incomes: A Decomposition Analysis for the U.K," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 45(2), pages 263-274, June.
    33. 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.
    34. Parker, Simon C, 1997. "The Distribution of Self-Employment Income in the United Kingdom, 1976-1991," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(441), pages 455-466, March.
    35. Irwin Bernhardt, 1994. "Comparative Advantage in Self-Employment and Paid Work," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 27(2), pages 273-289, May.
    36. Scott Shane, 2009. "Why encouraging more people to become entrepreneurs is bad public policy," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(2), pages 141-149, August.
    37. Constant, Amelie F. & Shachmurove, Yochanan, 2003. "Entrepreneurial Ventures and Wage Differentials Between Germans and Immigrants," IZA Discussion Papers 879, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    38. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-535, June.
    39. Williams, Donald R., 2000. "Consequences of self-employment for women and men in the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 665-687, September.
    40. Daniel W. Elfenbein & Barton H. Hamilton & Todd R. Zenger, 2010. "The Small Firm Effect and the Entrepreneurial Spawning of Scientists and Engineers," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 56(4), pages 659-681, April.
    41. David G. Blanchflower, 2004. "Self-Employment: More may not be better," NBER Working Papers 10286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    42. Amit, Raphael & Muller, Eitan & Cockburn, Iain, 1995. "Opportunity costs and entrepreneurial activity," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 95-106, March.
    43. Åstebro, Thomas & Bazzazian, Navid & Braguinsky, Serguey, 2012. "Startups by recent university graduates and their faculty: Implications for university entrepreneurship policy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 663-677.
    44. Parker,Simon C., 2009. "The Economics of Entrepreneurship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521728355, December.
    45. Groysberg, Boris & Nanda, Ashish & Prats, M Julia, 2009. "Does individual performance affect entrepreneurial mobility Empirical evidence from the financial analysis market," Journal of Financial Transformation, Capco Institute, vol. 25, pages 95-106.
    46. Serguey Braguinsky & Steven Klepper & Atsushi Ohyama, 2012. "High-Tech Entrepreneurship," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(4), pages 869-900.
    47. Joop Hartog & Mirjam van Praag & Justin van der Sluis, 2008. "If you are so smart, why aren't you an entrepreneur? Returns to cognitive and social ability: Entrepreneurs versus employees," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-084, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    48. Parker,Simon C., 2009. "The Economics of Entrepreneurship," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521899604, December.
    49. Lazear, Edward P, 1981. "Agency, Earnings Profiles, Productivity, and Hours Restrictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(4), pages 606-620, September.
    50. Robson, Martin T, 1997. "The Relative Earnings from Self and Paid Employment: A Time-Series Analysis for the UK," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 44(5), pages 502-518, November.
    51. Pernilla Andersson, 2007. "Do the unemployed become successful entrepreneurs?," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 28(7), pages 604-626, October.
    52. Panayiota Lyssiotou & Panos Pashardes & Thanasis Stengos, 2004. "Estimates of the black economy based on consumer demand approaches," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 622-640, 07.
    53. Edward P. Lazear & Robert L. Moore, 1984. "Incentives, Productivity, and Labor Contracts," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(2), pages 275-296.
    54. MacDonald, Glenn M, 1988. "The Economics of Rising Stars," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 155-166, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jbvent:v:29:y:2014:i:1:p:88-105. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.