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Returns to education and experience in self-employment: Evidence from Germany


  • Williams, Donald R.

    (Kent State University, Kent OH 44242, USA)


This paper compares the returns to human capital in the self-employed and wage-employed sectors of the economy. Using data from the former West German sample of the German Socioeconomic Panel survey for the 1984-1997 time period, we estimate returns to education and work experience from standard log-earnings equations for self-employed and wage-employed workers. Two key results are found. First, additional schooling has a smaller effect on earnings for the self-employed than for the wage-employed. Indeed, educational attainment has an insignificant effect on self-employment earnings. Second, prior self-employment experience receives a lower return in wage-employment than does prior wage-employment experience. These results are consistent across specifications controlling for education endogeneity and self-selection bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Williams, Donald R., 2002. "Returns to education and experience in self-employment: Evidence from Germany," IRISS Working Paper Series 2002-04, IRISS at CEPS/INSTEAD.
  • Handle: RePEc:irs:iriswp:2002-04

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Blanchflower, David G., 2000. "Self-employment in OECD countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 471-505, September.
    2. Williams, Donald R., 2000. "Consequences of self-employment for women and men in the United States," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(5), pages 665-687, September.
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    6. Trostel, Philip & Walker, Ian & Woolley, Paul, 2002. "Estimates of the economic return to schooling for 28 countries," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 1-16, February.
    7. Card, David, 1999. "The causal effect of education on earnings," Handbook of Labor Economics,in: O. Ashenfelter & D. Card (ed.), Handbook of Labor Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 30, pages 1801-1863 Elsevier.
    8. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-535, June.
    9. Blanchflower, David G & Meyer, Bruce D, 1994. "A Longitudinal Analysis of the Young Self-Employed in Australia and the United States," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 1-19, February.
    10. Clain, Suzanne Heller, 2000. "Gender differences in full-time self-employment," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(6), pages 499-513.
    11. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fossen, Frank M. & Büttner, Tobias J.M., 2013. "The returns to education for opportunity entrepreneurs, necessity entrepreneurs, and paid employees," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 66-84.
    2. Alejos, Luis Alejandro, 2006. "La elección del sector laboral y los retornos a la educación en Guatemala
      [Labour Sector Choice and the Returns to Education in Guatemala]
      ," MPRA Paper 42756, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Hyytinen, Ari & Rouvinen, Petri, 2008. "The labour market consequences of self-employment spells: European evidence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 246-271, April.
    4. Kaiser, Ulrich & Malchow-Møller, Nikolaj, 2011. "Is self-employment really a bad experience?: The effects of previous self-employment on subsequent wage-employment wages," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 572-588, September.
    5. Johannes Martin, 2013. "The Impact on Earnings When Entering Self-Employment: Evidence for Germany," SOEPpapers on Multidisciplinary Panel Data Research 537, DIW Berlin, The German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP).
    6. Parker, Simon C., 2008. "Entrepreneurship among married couples in the United States: A simultaneous probit approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(3), pages 459-481, June.
    7. Lechmann, Daniel S. J. & Schnabel, Claus, 2012. "What Explains the Gender Earnings Gap in Self-Employment? A Decomposition Analysis with German Data," IZA Discussion Papers 6435, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Joshua D. Gottlieb & Richard R. Townsend & Ting Xu, 2016. "Experimenting with Entrepreneurship: The Effect of Job-Protected Leave," NBER Working Papers 22446, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Baumann, Florian & Brändle, Tobias, 2012. "Self-employment, educational attainment and employment protection legislation," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 846-859.

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