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Self-Employment, Family Background, and Race

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  • Michael Hout
  • Harvey S. Rosen

Abstract

We focus on the intergenerational transmission of the propensity to be self-employed. Our emphasis is on the role of family background, and in particular, on what we call the intergenerational pick-up rate with respect to self-employment, the probability that a person with a self-employed parent will become self-employed him or herself. We use the General Social Survey, a data source with rich information on individuals' family histories, to investigate how family background affects self-employment probabilities and to document how racial and ethnic groups differ with respect to the intergenerational pick-up rate. We confirm earlier findings that father's self-employment status is an important determinant of offspring's self-employment outcomes. New results include: 1) The impact of paternal self-employment differs by race. 2) Even independent of father's occupation, family structure plays a role. 3) Blacks have lower self-employment rates than whites in part because they have different family structures; still, within each family type, blacks have lower self-employment rates. 4) Extrapolating current patterns into the future, there is no indication that black and white self-employment rates will converge any time soon. 5) The relatively high self-employment rates of immigrants carry into the next generation, but not beyond that. 6) Male immigrants who have self-employed fathers re no more likely to be self-employed than other immigrants.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Hout & Harvey S. Rosen, 1999. "Self-Employment, Family Background, and Race," NBER Working Papers 7344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7344
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-827, August.
    2. Robert W. Fairlie & Bruce D. Meyer, 1996. "Ethnic and Racial Self-Employment Differences and Possible Explanations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 757-793.
    3. Fairlie, Robert W, 1999. "The Absence of the African-American Owned Business: An Analysis of the Dynamics of Self-Employment," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(1), pages 80-108, January.
    4. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-748, August.
    5. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 334-347, Summer.
    6. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    7. Robert Kaestner, 1997. "Are Brothers Really Better? Sibling Sex Composition and Educational Achievement Revisited," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(2), pages 250-284.
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    9. Bruce D. Meyer, 1990. "Why Are There So Few Black Entrepreneurs?," NBER Working Papers 3537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-579, August.
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    12. Lynn Elaine Browne & Geoffrey M.B. Tootell, 1995. "Mortgage lending in Boston: a response to the critics," New England Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Sep, pages 53-78.
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    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination

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