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Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations

  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Bruce D. Meyer

We show that self-employment rates differ substantially across 60 ethnic and racial groups in the United States. These differences exist within broad combinations of groups such as Asians and Hispanics, and are almost as great after regression controls, including age, education, immigrant status, and time in the country. We then provide evidence on a number of theories of self-employment. An ethnic/racial group's self-employment rate is positively associated with the difference between average self-employment and wage/salary earnings for that group. Ethnic/racial groups that emigrate from countries with high self-employment rates do not have high self-employment rates in the United States. Finally, we find that the more advantaged ethnic/racial groups, measured by wage/salary earnings, self-employment earnings, and unearned income, and not the more disadvantaged groups, have the highest self-employment rates.

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Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 31 (1996)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 757-793

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:31:y:1996:i:4:p:757-793
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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  1. Holtz-Eakin, D. & Joulfaian, D. & Rosen, H.S., 1992. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," Papers 129, Princeton, Department of Economics - Financial Research Center.
  2. 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.
  3. Timothy Bates, 1989. "The changing nature of minority business: A comparative analysis of asian, nonminority, and black-owned businesses," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 18(2), pages 25-42, September.
  4. 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.
  5. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
  6. Moore, Robert L, 1983. "Employer Discrimination: Evidence from Self-Employed Workers," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(3), pages 496-501, August.
  7. Bruce D. Meyer, 1990. "Why Are There So Few Black Entrepreneurs?," NBER Working Papers 3537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 1942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Borjas, George J & Bronars, Stephen G, 1989. "Consumer Discrimination and Self-employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(3), pages 581-605, June.
  10. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1994. "The Ethnic and Racial Character of Self-Employment," NBER Working Papers 4791, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. George J. Borjas & Glenn T. Sueyoshi, 1993. "A Two-Stage Estimator for Probit Models with Structural Group Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Frank Fratoe, 1986. "A sociological analysis of minority business," The Review of Black Political Economy, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 5-29, September.
  13. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  14. Devine, Theresa J, 1994. "Changes in Wage-and-Salary Returns to Skill and the Recent Rise in Female Self-Employment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 108-13, May.
  15. Ahn, H. & Powell, J.L., 1990. "Semiparametric Estimation Of Censored Selection Models With A Nonparametric Selection Mechanism," Working papers 90-33, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  16. Rees, Hedley & Shah, Anup, 1986. "An Empirical Analysis of Self-employment in the U.K," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 1(1), pages 95-108, January.
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