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Low-skilled immigrant entrepreneurship

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  • Magnus Lofstrom

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Abstract

More than half of the foreign born workforce in the U.S. have no schooling beyond high school and about 20 percent of the low-skilled workforce are immigrants. More than 10 percent of these low-skilled immigrants are self-employed. Utilizing longitudinal data from the 1996, 2001 and 2004 Survey of Income and Program Participation panels, this paper analyzes the returns to self-employment among low-skilled immigrants. We compare annual earnings and earnings growth of immigrant entrepreneurs to immigrants in wage/salary employment as well as native born business owners. We find that the returns to low-skilled self-employment among immigrants is higher than it is among natives but also that wage/salary employment is a more financially rewarding option for most low-skilled immigrants. An exception is immigrant men, who are found to have higher earnings growth than immigrants in wage/salary employment and are predicted to reach earnings parity after approximately 10 years in business. We also find that most of the 20 percent male native-immigrant earnings gap among low-skilled business owners can be explained primarily by differences in the ethnic composition. Low-skilled female foreign born entrepreneurs are found to have earnings roughly equal to those of self-employed native born women.
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Suggested Citation

  • Magnus Lofstrom, 2011. "Low-skilled immigrant entrepreneurship," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 25-44, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:reveho:v:9:y:2011:i:1:p:25-44
    DOI: 10.1007/s11150-010-9106-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Magnus Lofstrom, 2002. "Labor market assimilation and the self-employment decision of immigrant entrepreneurs," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(1), pages 83-114.
    2. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Rosen, Harvey S & Weathers, Robert, 2000. "Horatio Alger Meets the Mobility Tables," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 243-274, June.
    3. David G. Blanchflower, 2004. "Self-Employment: More may not be better," NBER Working Papers 10286, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Magnus Lofstrom & Timothy Bates, 2009. "Latina entrepreneurship," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 427-439, December.
    5. Timothy Bates & Lisa Servon, 1998. "Microenterprise As An Exit Route From Poverty:* Recommendations For Programs And Policy Makers," Working Papers 98-17, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Bates, Timothy, 1990. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 551-559, November.
    7. 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.
    8. Magnus Lofstrom, 2013. "Does self-employment increase the economic well-being of low-skilled workers?," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 40(4), pages 933-952, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Lofstrom, Magnus & Wang, Chunbei, 2006. "Hispanic Self-Employment: A Dynamic Analysis of Business Ownership," IZA Discussion Papers 2101, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Robert Fairlie, 2005. "Entrepreneurship and Earnings among Young Adults from Disadvantaged Families," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 223-236, October.
    12. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Magnus Lofstrom, 2014. "Immigrants and entrepreneurship," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 1-85, September.
    2. repec:krk:eberjl:v:3:y:2015:i:3:p:9-27 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Immigrants; Low-skill; Earnings; Self-employment; Entrepreneurship; J15; J16; J31; L26;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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