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Risk Attitudes and Private Business Equity

  • Frank M. Fossen

Why do people engage in entrepreneurship and commit large parts of their personal wealth to their business, despite comparably low returns and high risk? This paper connects several streams of literature to shed some light on this puzzle and suggests possible future research avenues. Key insights from the literature are that entrepreneurs may operate in imperfect financial markets and that entrepreneurs are less risk-averse than the rest of the population. A focus of this paper is, therefore, on the role of heterogeneous risk attitudes in entrepreneurial decisions, specifically portfolio choice and the entry and exit decisions. Nonpecuniary benefits of entrepreneurship, such as being independent in the workplace, also contribute to an explanation of entrepreneurial behavior.

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Paper provided by DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research in its series Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin with number 1209.

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Length: 33 p.
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp1209
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  1. Marianne P. Bitler & Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2005. "Testing Agency Theory with Entrepreneur Effort and Wealth," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 60(2), pages 539-576, 04.
  2. Hintermaier, Thomas & Steinberger, Thomas, 2005. "Occupational choice and the private equity premium puzzle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1765-1783, October.
  3. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank M. & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2006. "Risk Attitudes of Nascent Entrepreneurs: New Evidence from an Experimentally-Validated Survey," IZA Discussion Papers 2168, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  6. Frank M. Fossen, 2009. "Would a Flat-Rate Tax Stimulate Entrepreneurship in Germany? A Behavioural Microsimulation Analysis Allowing for Risk," Fiscal Studies, Institute for Fiscal Studies, vol. 30(2), pages 179-218, 06.
  7. Fuchs-Schündeln, Nicola, 2009. "On preferences for being self-employed," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 162-171, August.
  8. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2004. "Taxation, entrepreneurship, and wealth," Staff Report 340, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  9. Frank M. Fossen & Viktor Steiner, 2006. "Income Taxes and Entrepreneurial Choice: Empirical Evidence from Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 582, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  10. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2000. "Entrepreneurship and Household Saving," NBER Working Papers 7894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Caliendo, Marco & Fossen, Frank & Kritikos, Alexander, 2010. "The impact of risk attitudes on entrepreneurial survival," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 45-63, October.
  12. Richard Disney & John Gathergood, . "Housing Wealth, Liquidity Constraints and Self-Employment," Discussion Papers 08/03, University of Nottingham, Centre for Finance, Credit and Macroeconomics (CFCM).
  13. Valery Polkovnichenko, 2003. "Human Capital and the Private Equity Premium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 831-845, October.
  14. Herb J. Schuetze, . "Taxes, Economic Conditions And Recent Trends in Male Self-Employment: A Canada-U.S. Comparison," Canadian International Labour Network Working Papers 11, McMaster University.
  15. John Y. Campbell & Martin Lettau & Burton G. Malkiel & Yexiao Xu, 2000. "Have Individual Stocks Become More Volatile? An Empirical Exploration of Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 7590, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. van Praag, C M & Cramer, J S, 2001. "The Roots of Entrepreneurship and Labour Demand: Individual Ability and Low Risk Aversion," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 68(269), pages 45-62, February.
  17. 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.
  18. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2005. ""Success Taxes," Entrepreneurial Entry, and Innovation," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 5, pages 87-108 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Robert B. Barsky & F. Thomas Juster & Miles S. Kimball & Matthew D. Shapiro, 1997. "Preference Parameters and Behavioral Heterogeneity: An Experimental Approach in the Health and Retirement Study," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 537-579.
  20. Cressy, Robert, 2000. "Credit rationing or entrepreneurial risk aversion? An alternative explanation for the Evans and Jovanovic finding," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 235-240, February.
  21. Bruce, Donald, 2000. "Effects of the United States tax system on transitions into self-employment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 545-574, September.
  22. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
  23. Cramer, J. S. & Hartog, J. & Jonker, N. & Van Praag, C. M., 2002. "Low risk aversion encourages the choice for entrepreneurship: an empirical test of a truism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 29-36, May.
  24. R. Glenn Hubbard & William M. Gentry, 2000. "Tax Policy and Entrepreneurial Entry," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 283-287, May.
  25. Koellinger, Philipp & Minniti, Maria & Schade, Christian, 2007. ""I think I can, I think I can": Overconfidence and entrepreneurial behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 502-527, August.
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