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Gender Differences in Business Performance: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey


  • Robert Fairlie
  • Alicia Robb


Using confidential microdata from the U.S. Census Bureau, we investigate the performance of female-owned businesses making comparisons to male-owned businesses. Using regression estimates and a decomposition technique, we explore the role that human capital, especially through prior work experience, and financial capital play in contributing to why female-owned businesses have lower survival rates, profits, employment and sales. We find that female-owned businesses are less successful than male-owned businesses because they have less startup capital, and business human capital acquired through prior work experience in a similar business and prior work experience in family business. We also find some evidence that femaleowned businesses work fewer hours and may have different preferences for the goals of their business.

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  • Robert Fairlie & Alicia Robb, 2008. "Gender Differences in Business Performance: Evidence from the Characteristics of Business Owners Survey," Working Papers 08-39, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  • Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:08-39

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Female entrepreneurship; business outcomes;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship


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