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Determinants of self-employment preference and realization of women and men in Europe and the United States


  • Roy Thurik
  • Ingrid Verheul
  • Isabel Grilo


Female self-employment rates are consistently lower than those of men. This untapped female potential has drawn the attention of policy makers. In the present paper the determinants of selfemployment rates of both men and women are investigated in the context of a two-equation model explaining both actual self-employment and the preference for self-employment. A systematic distinction is made between different ways in which gender can exert influence on (preference for) self-employment,including moderation, mediation and direct effects. Using Flash Eurobarometer data of about 8,000 individuals from 29 countries (including the 15 old EU member states, 10 new EU member states and the United States) probit equations are estimated explaining the (preference for) self-employment. Next to gender, explanatory variables include age, education, social capital, risk attitude, locus of control and perceptions of the entrepreneurial environment. Findings show that at least part of the explanation of the lower female self-employment rate is caused by a lower preference for women to become self-employed. We do not find evidence for a moderating effect of gender on the relationship between self-employment and the preference for self-employment, indicating that ' other things equal ' women and men who have a preference to become self-employed do not differ with respect to the impact of this preference on its materialization. Read also the new version of this paper: R200803, "Explaining preferences and actual involvement in self-employment: new insights into the role of gender."

Suggested Citation

  • Roy Thurik & Ingrid Verheul & Isabel Grilo, 2006. "Determinants of self-employment preference and realization of women and men in Europe and the United States," Scales Research Reports H200622, EIM Business and Policy Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eim:papers:h200622

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