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Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States


  • Pierre Azoulay

    (MIT Sloan School of Management, and NBER)

  • Benjamin Jones

    (Northwestern University, and NBER)

  • J. Daniel Kim

    (University of Pennsylvania)

  • Javier Miranda

    (Friedrich-Schiller University Jena and Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH))


Immigrants can expand labor supply and compete for jobs with native-born workers. But immigrants may also start new firms, expanding labor demand. This paper uses U.S. administrative data and other data sources to study the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship. We ask how often immigrants start companies, how many jobs these firms create, and how firms founded by native-born individuals compare. A simple model provides a measurement framework for addressing the dual roles of immigrants as founders and workers. The findings suggest that immigrants act more as "job creators" than "job takers" and play outsized roles in U.S. high-growth entrepreneurship.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Benjamin Jones & J. Daniel Kim & Javier Miranda, 2021. "Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States," Jena Economics Research Papers 2021-014, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2021-014

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stuart J.H. Graham & Cheryl Grim & Tariqul Islam & Alan C. Marco & Javier Miranda, 2018. "Business dynamics of innovating firms: Linking U.S. patents with administrative data on workers and firms," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 27(3), pages 372-402, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maffei-Faccioli, Nicolò & Vella, Eugenia, 2021. "Does immigration grow the pie? Asymmetric evidence from Germany," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    2. Parag Mahajan, 2021. "Immigration and Local Business Dynamics: Evidence from U.S. Firms," Working Papers 21-18, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    3. Ghimire Keshar M., 2021. "Supply of immigrant entrepreneurs and native entrepreneurship," IZA Journal of Development and Migration, Sciendo & Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 12(1), pages 1-42, January.
    4. Xu, Yibin & Chen, Zhibin & Fan, Rui, 2023. "Highly skilled foreign labor introduction policies and corporate innovation: Evidence from a natural experiment in China," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 137-156.
    5. Uhlbach, Wolf-Hendrik & Tartari, Valentina & Kongsted, Hans Christian, 2022. "Beyond scientific excellence: International mobility and the entrepreneurial activities of academic scientists," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(1).
    6. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr, 2021. "Whose Job Is It Anyway? Coethnic Hiring in New US Ventures," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 15(1), pages 86-127.
    7. Green, David A. & Liu, Huju & Ostrovsky, Yuri & Picot, Garnett, 2023. "Are immigrants particularly entrepreneurial? Policy lessons from a selective immigration system," CLEF Working Paper Series 61, Canadian Labour Economics Forum (CLEF), University of Waterloo.
    8. Riillo, Cesare Fabio Antonio & Peroni, Chiara, 2022. "Immigration and entrepreneurship in Europe: cross-country evidence," MPRA Paper 114580, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Rodrigues, Hugo S. & Shrestha, Samyam, 2022. "Labor Market Impacts of a Refugee Crisis in Brazil," 2022 Annual Meeting, July 31-August 2, Anaheim, California 322349, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    10. Arrighetti, Alessandro & Canello, Jacopo, 2023. "Explaining the Multifaceted Patterns of Migrant Entrepreneurship in the Global Economy: A Resource-Based Approach," EconStor Preprints 273451, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.
    11. Michael Clemens, 2021. "The Fiscal Effect of Immigration: Reducing Bias in Influential Estimates," CESifo Working Paper Series 9464, CESifo.
    12. Gergely Horváth & Rui Zhang, 2022. "Ethnic entrepreneurship, assimilation, and integration policy," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 24(4), pages 781-816, August.
    13. Paolo Martellini & Todd Schoellman & Jason A. Sockin, 2022. "The Global Distribution of College Graduate Quality," Working Papers 791, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    14. Shrestha, Samyam & Sant'Anna, Hugo, 2023. "Immigration Enforcement, Entrepreneurship, and Firm Entry/Exit," 2023 Annual Meeting, July 23-25, Washington D.C. 335611, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    15. Areendam Chanda & Bulent Unel, 2021. "Do attitudes toward risk taking affect entrepreneurship? Evidence from second-generation Americans," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 26(4), pages 385-413, December.
    16. Lee, Jun Yeong & Winters, John V., 2021. "Too Cold to Venture There? January Temperature and Immigrant Self-Employment across the United States," IZA Discussion Papers 14941, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    17. Prithwiraj Choudhury & Kirk Doran & Astrid Marinoni & Chungeun Yoon, 2022. "Loss of Peers and Individual Worker Performance: Evidence from H-1B Visa Denials," CESifo Working Paper Series 10152, CESifo.
    18. Matija Kovacic & Cristina Elisa Orso, 2023. "Who’s afraid of immigration? The effect of economic preferences on tolerance," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 36(3), pages 1901-1940, July.
    19. Braga, Breno & Elliott, Diana, 2023. "The Effects of Maria Migrants on the Financial Health of the Residents of Central Florida," IZA Discussion Papers 16482, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item


    Entrepreneurship; immigration; innovation; administrative data; Survey of Business Owners; Fortune 500; job creation; earnings; growth;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • O3 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights

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