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Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Do They Earn More?

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  • Ross Levine
  • Yona Rubinstein

Abstract

We disaggregate the self-employed into incorporated and unincorporated to distinguish between "entrepreneurs" and other business owners. We show that the incorporated self-employed and their businesses engage in activities that demand comparatively strong nonroutine cognitive abilities, while the unincorporated and their firms perform tasks demanding relatively strong manual skills. The incorporated selfemployed have distinct cognitive and noncognitive traits. Besides tending to be white, male, and come from higher-income families, the incorporated—as teenagers—typically scored higher on learning aptitude tests, had greater self-esteem, and engaged in more disruptive, illicit activities. The combination of "smart" and "illicit" tendencies as youths accounts for both entry into entrepreneurship and the comparative earnings of entrepreneurs. In contrast to past research, we find that entrepreneurs earn more per hour and work more hours than their salaried and unincorporated counterparts.

Suggested Citation

  • Ross Levine & Yona Rubinstein, 2013. "Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Do They Earn More?," NBER Working Papers 19276, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19276
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    2. Elert, Niklas & Andersson, Fredrik W. & Wennberg, Karl, 2015. "The impact of entrepreneurship education in high school on long-term entrepreneurial performance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 209-223.
    3. Lindquist, Matthew J. & Sol, Joeri & van Praag, Mirjam C. & Vladasel, Theodor, 2016. "On the Origins of Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Sibling Correlations," IZA Discussion Papers 10278, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:275-293 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gumus, Gulcin & Regan, Tracy L., 2015. "Self-employment and the role of health insurance in the U.S," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 357-374.
    6. Vera Rocha & Mirjam van Praag & Anabela Carneiro, 2015. "Deviating from the benchmarks: Human capital inputs and the survival of new startups," CEF.UP Working Papers 1502, Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Economia do Porto.
    7. Daly, Moira, 2015. "The long term returns of attempting self-employment with regular employment as a fall back option," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 26-52.
    8. Cook, William & Whittle, Richard, 2015. "Do individuals’ risk and time preferences predict entrepreneurial choice?," MPRA Paper 66674, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Leslie Hannah, 2015. "A global corporate census: publicly traded and close companies in 1910," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(2), pages 548-573, May.
    10. Odermatt, Reto & Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Stutzer, Alois, 2017. "Overoptimistic Entrepreneurs: Predicting Wellbeing Consequences of Self-Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 11098, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    11. Tommaso Ciarli & Alberto Marzucchi & Edgar Salgado & Maria Savona, 2018. "The Effect of R&D Growth on Employment and Self-Employment in Local Labour Markets," SPRU Working Paper Series 2018-08, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
    12. Pierre Azoulay & Benjamin Jones & J. Daniel Kim & Javier Miranda, 2018. "Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 24489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Karen Maguire & John V. Winters, 2017. "Satisfaction and Self-Employment: Do Women Benefit More from Being Their Own Boss?," Economics Working Paper Series 1713, Oklahoma State University, Department of Economics and Legal Studies in Business.
    14. Åstebro, Thomas & Tåg, Joacim, 2015. "Jobs Incorporated: Incorporation Status and Job Creation," Working Paper Series 1059, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    15. Sari Pekkala Kerr & William R. Kerr & Tina Xu, 2017. "Personality Traits of Entrepreneurs: A Review of Recent Literature," NBER Working Papers 24097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. repec:taf:indinn:v:24:y:2017:i:1:p:61-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:nos:voprob:2017:i:4:p:83-103 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J3 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship

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