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

In: Mexican Immigration to the United States

  • Robert W. Fairlie
  • Christopher Woodruff

Nearly a quarter of Mexico's workforce is self employed. In the United States, however, 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 United States, however, estimates indicate that low levels of education and the youth of Mexican immigrants residing in the United States account for roughly half of the Mexican immigrant/U.S. total difference in self-employment rates for men and the entire difference for women. We also find some suggestive evidence that for both men and women, Mexican immigrant self-employment rates may be higher for those who reside in the United States legally and are fluent in English, and for men, those who live in ethnic enclaves.

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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, September.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 0100.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:0100
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Christian Dustmann & Arthur Van Soest, 2002. "Language and the earnings of immigrants," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 55(3), pages 473-492, April.
    2. 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 101-30, April.
    3. Michael Hout & Harvey S. Rosen, 1999. "Self-Employment, Family Background, and Race," NBER Working Papers 7344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt24p7v6gc, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
    5. 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.
    6. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, . "The Effect of Immigration on Native Self-Employment," IPR working papers 00-2, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
    7. Andrew M. Yuengert, 1995. "Testing Hypotheses of Immigrant Self-Employment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(1), pages 194-204.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. Holtz-Eakin, Douglas & Rosen, Harvey S & Weathers, Robert, 2000. " Horatio Alger Meets the Mobility Tables," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 243-74, June.
    11. Douglas Gollin, 2001. "Getting Income Shares Right," Department of Economics Working Papers 2001-11, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    12. Daniel Chiquiar & Gordon H. Hanson, 2002. "International Migration, Self-Selection, and the Distribution of Wages: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 9242, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. 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.
    14. 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 563-79, August.
    15. George J. Borjas, 1986. "The Self-Employment Experience of Immigrants," NBER Working Papers 1942, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. 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.
    17. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," NBER Working Papers 5592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. 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.
    19. 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.
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