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What Makes an Entrepreneur and Does It Pay?: Native Men, Turks, and Other Migrants in Germany


  • Amelie Constant
  • Yochanan Shachmurove
  • Klaus F. Zimmermann


This paper focuses on the entrepreneurial endeavors of immigrants and natives in Germany. We pay closer attention to Turks, since they are the largest immigrant group with a strong entrepreneurial tradition, and the self-employed Turks in Germany represent about 70% of all Turkish entrepreneurs in the European Union. We identify the characteristics of the self-employed individuals and understand their underlying drive into selfemployment. At the same time we investigate how immigrant entrepreneurs fare in the labor market compared to natives. Employing data from the German Socioeconomic Panel 2000 release we find that the probability of self-employment increases significantly with age for all groups albeit at a decreasing rate. Among immigrants, Turks are twice as likely to choose self-employment as any other immigrant group. The age-earnings profiles of self-employed German and immigrant men are concave and surprisingly similarly shaped. While for self-employed German men hours of work and Treiman prestige scale scores increase their earnings, for self-employed immigrant men it is the longevity of the business that makes a difference. Everything else equal, the earnings of self-employed Turks are no different from the earnings of the self-employed Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, ex- Yugoslavs, Polish or other East Europeans, including those immigrants who have become German citizens.

Suggested Citation

  • Amelie Constant & Yochanan Shachmurove & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2003. "What Makes an Entrepreneur and Does It Pay?: Native Men, Turks, and Other Migrants in Germany," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 386, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:diw:diwwpp:dp386

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    8. Tikva Lecker & Yochanan Shachmurove, 1999. "Immigration and socioeconomic gaps: theory and applications," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(5), pages 539-549.
    9. Wagner, Joachim & Sternberg, Rolf, 2002. "Personal and Regional Determinants of Entrepreneurial Activities: Empirical Evidence from the REM Germany," IZA Discussion Papers 624, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    Cited by:

    1. Elisabeth Mueller, 2014. "Entrepreneurs from low-skilled immigrant groups in knowledge-intensive industries: company characteristics, survival and innovative performance," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 42(4), pages 871-889, April.
    2. S. Longhi & P. Nijkamp & J. Poot, 2010. "Joint impacts of immigration on wages and employment: review and meta-analysis," Journal of Geographical Systems, Springer, vol. 12(4), pages 355-387, December.
    3. Yochanan Shachmurove, 2009. "Economic Geography, Venture Capital and Focal Points of Entrepreneurial Activity," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-032, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    4. Constant, Amelie F., 2004. "Immigrant versus Native Businesswomen: Proclivity and Performance," IZA Discussion Papers 1234, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Yochanan Shachmurove, 2007. "Geography and Industry Meets Venture Capital," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-015, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
    6. Amelie Constant & Klaus F. Zimmermann, 2004. "Self-Employment Dynamics across the Business Cycle: Migrants versus Natives," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 455, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    7. Yochanan Shachmurove, 2006. "An Excursion into the Venture Capital Industry Stratified by Locations and Industries 1996-2005," Journal of Entrepreneurial Finance, Pepperdine University, Graziadio School of Business and Management, vol. 11(3), pages 79-104, Fall.
    8. Joachim Ragnitz & Stefan Eichler & Beate Henschel & Harald Lehmann & Carsten Pohl & Lutz Schneider & Helmut Seitz & Marcel Thum, 2007. "Die demographische Entwicklung in Ostdeutschland : Gutachten im Auftrag des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie," ifo Dresden Studien, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, number 41, June.
    9. Aki Harima, 2015. "Motivation of Japanese Descending Diaspora Entrepreneurs (Motywacja przedsiebiorcow diaspory japonskiej bedacych potomkami emigrantow)," Research Reports, University of Warsaw, Faculty of Management, vol. 2(19), pages 22-36.
    10. Y Georgellis & J G Sessions & N Tsitsianis, 2005. "Self-Employment Longitudinal Dynamics: A Review of the Literature," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 10(2), pages 51-84, September.
    11. Constant, Amelie F. & Tien, Bienvenue N., 2011. "Report No. 41: Germany's Immigration Policy and Labor Shortages," IZA Research Reports 41, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Entrepreneurship; self-employment; occupational choice; immigrants; wage differentials;

    JEL classification:

    • J23 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Demand
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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