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If You Are So Smart, Why Aren't You an Entrepreneur? Returns to Cognitive and Social Ability: Entrepreneurs versus Employees

  • Hartog, Joop

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • van Praag, Mirjam C.

    ()

    (Copenhagen Business School)

  • van der Sluis, Justin

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam)

How valuable are cognitive and social abilities for entrepreneurs’ incomes as compared to employees? We answer three questions: (1) To what extent does a composite measure of ability affect an entrepreneur's earnings relative to employees? (2) Do different cognitive abilities (e.g. math ability, language ability) and social ability affect earnings of entrepreneurs and employees differently?, and (3) Does the balance in these measured ability levels affect an individual's earnings? Our individual fixed-effects estimates of the differential returns to ability for spells in entrepreneurship versus wage employment account for selectivity into entrepreneurial positions as determined by fixed individual characteristics. General ability has a stronger impact on entrepreneurial incomes than on wages. Entrepreneurs and employees benefit from different sets of specific abilities: Language and clerical abilities have a stronger impact on wages, whereas mathematical, social and technical ability affect entrepreneurial incomes more strongly. The balance in the various kinds of ability also generates a higher income, but only for entrepreneurs: This finding supports Lazear's Jack-of-all-Trades theory.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3648.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, 2010, 19 (4), 947-989
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3648
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  1. Simon C. Parker & C. Mirjam van Praag, 2006. "The entrepreneur’s mode of entry: Business takeover or new venture start?," Papers on Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy 2006-26, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Entrepreneurship, Growth and Public Policy Group.
  2. 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.
  3. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Baron, Robert A. & Markman, Gideon D., 2003. "Beyond social capital: the role of entrepreneurs' social competence in their financial success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 41-60, January.
  5. Richard J. Murnane & John B. Willett & Frank Levy, 1995. "The Growing Importance of Cognitive Skills in Wage Determination," NBER Working Papers 5076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Silva, Olmo, 2007. "The Jack-of-All-Trades entrepreneur: Innate talent or acquired skill?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 118-123, November.
  7. Wagner, Joachim, 2002. "Testing Lazear’s Jack-of-All-Trades View of Entrepreneurship with German Micro Data," IZA Discussion Papers 592, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  8. Hansen, Karsten T. & Heckman, James J. & Mullen, K.J.Kathleen J., 2004. "The effect of schooling and ability on achievement test scores," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 121(1-2), pages 39-98.
  9. Murnane, Richard J. & Willett, John B. & Braatz, M. Jay & Duhaldeborde, Yves, 2001. "Do different dimensions of male high school students' skills predict labor market success a decade later? Evidence from the NLSY," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 20(4), pages 311-320, August.
  10. Gerrit Mueller & Erik Plug, 2006. "Estimating the effect of personality on male and female earnings," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 60(1), pages 3-22, October.
  11. Justin van der Sluis & Mirjam van Praag & Wim Vijverberg, 2008. "Education And Entrepreneurship Selection And Performance: A Review Of The Empirical Literature," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(5), pages 795-841, December.
  12. Blackburn, McKinley L & Neumark, David, 1993. "Omitted-Ability Bias and the Increase in the Return to Schooling," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(3), pages 521-44, July.
  13. Hause, John C, 1972. "Earnings Profile: Ability and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(3), pages S108-S38, Part II, .
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  15. Åstebro, Thomas & Thompson, Peter, 2011. "Entrepreneurs, Jacks of all trades or Hobos?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 637-649, June.
  16. Yona Rubinstein & James J. Heckman, 2001. "The Importance of Noncognitive Skills: Lessons from the GED Testing Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 145-149, May.
  17. repec:dgr:uvatin:20070066 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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.
  19. Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 2000. "Measuring and Assessing the Impact of Basic Skills on Labour Market Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers 0003, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  20. C. Mirjam van Praag & Peter H. Versloot, 2007. "What is the Value of Entrepreneurship? A Review of Recent Research," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-061, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  21. Paglin, Morton & Rufolo, Anthony M, 1990. "Heterogeneous Human Capital, Occupational Choice, and Male-Female Earnings Differences," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 8(1), pages 123-44, January.
  22. Sattinger, Michael, 1975. "Comparative Advantage and the Distributions of Earnings and Abilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 43(3), pages 455-68, May.
  23. van der Sluis, Justin & van Praag, Mirjam C. & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, 2007. "Why Are the Returns to Education Higher for Entrepreneurs than for Employees?," IZA Discussion Papers 3058, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  24. Paul J. Taubman & Terence Wales, 1974. "Higher Education and Earnings: College as an Investment and Screening Device," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number taub74-1, December.
  25. Hartog, Joop, 2001. "On Human Capital and Individual Capabilities," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 47(4), pages 515-40, December.
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