Ethnic Concentration, Cultural Identity and Immigrant Self-Employment in Switzerland
Immigrant self-employment rates vary considerably across regions in Switzerland. Business ownership seems to provide an alternative to wage labour, where immigrants have to face structural barriers such as the limited knowledge of the local language, or difficulties in fruitfully making use of their own human capital. Despite the historically high unemployment rates with respect to natives, immigrants in Switzerland are less entrepreneurial. It is therefore important to uncover the determinants that may facilitate the transition from the status of immigrant to the one of economic agent. Among others factors, concentration in ethnic enclaves, as well as accumulated labour market experience and time elapsed since immigration, have been associated to higher business ownership rates. In this paper we use a cross-section of 2,490 Swiss municipalities in order to investigate the role played by the ethnic concentration of immigrants, as well as cultural factors, in determining self-employment rates.
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