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Mexican Entrepreneurship: A Comparison of Self-Employment in Mexico and the United States

In: Mexican Immigration to the United States

Listed author(s):
  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Christopher Woodruff

Nearly a quarter of Mexico's workforce is self employed. But in the U.S. rates of self employment among Mexican Americans are only 6 percent, about half the rate among non-Latino whites. Using data from the Mexican and U.S. population census, we show that neither industrial composition nor differences in the age and education of Mexican born populations residing in Mexico and the U.S. accounts for the differences in the self employment rates in the two countries. Within the U.S., however, the data show self employment rates are much higher in ethnic enclaves. In PUMAS with a high percentage of residents of Latino origin, rates of self employment are comparable to rates among non-Latino whites. The data also indicate that the lack of English language ability and the lack of legal status among Mexican American immigrants helps account for their lower rates of self employment.

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This chapter was published in:
  • George J. Borjas, 2007. "Mexican Immigration to the United States," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number borj06-1, June.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0100.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0100
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    National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

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    1. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 2003. "The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(3), pages 619-650, July.
    2. Robert W. Fairlie & Alicia Robb, 2007. "Families, Human Capital, and Small Business: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(2), pages 225-245, January.
    3. McManus, Walter & Gould, William & Welch, Finis, 1983. "Earnings of Hispanic Men: The Role of English Language Proficiency," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(2), pages 101-130, April.
    4. Antonio Spilimbergo & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1337-1357, December.
    5. Michael Hout & Harvey Rosen, 2000. "Self-Employment, Family Background, and Race," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(4), pages 670-692.
    6. Sherrie A. Kossoudji & Deborah A. Cobb-Clark, 2002. "Coming out of the Shadows: Learning about Legal Status and Wages from the Legalized Population," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 598-628, July.
    7. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 757-793.
    8. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-579, August.
    9. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2005. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 239-281, April.
    10. Fairlie, Robert W, 1999. "The Absence of the African-American Owned Business: An Analysis of the Dynamics of Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 80-108, January.
    11. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 21(4), pages 485-506.
    12. Douglas Gollin, 2002. "Getting Income Shares Right," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(2), pages 458-474, April.
    13. 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.
    14. Gollin, Douglas, 2008. "Nobody's business but my own: Self-employment and small enterprise in economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 55(2), pages 219-233, March.
    15. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1995. "Testing Hypotheses of Immigrant Self-Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 194-204.
    16. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the Earnings of Immigrants," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
    17. Hoyt Bleakley & Aimee Chin, 2004. "Language Skills and Earnings: Evidence from Childhood Immigrants," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 86(2), pages 481-496, May.
    18. Dunn, Thomas & Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, 2000. "Financial Capital, Human Capital, and the Transition to Self-Employment: Evidence from Intergenerational Links," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(2), pages 282-305, April.
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