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Macroeconomic Contractions during Impressionable Years and Entrepreneurship in Later Adulthood


  • Sotirakopoulos, Panagiotis
  • Guven, Cahit
  • Ulker, Aydogan
  • Graham, Carol


We argue that past events experienced during the critical ages of 18-25 can influence an individual's future entrepreneurship based on the "impressionable years hypothesis". Accordingly, we empirically investigate the relationship between bad economic conditions during youth and later-life entrepreneurship using Gallup from 2009 to 2014. The identification is achieved through variations across 77 countries and age cohorts born between 1954 and 1989. Our findings indicate that bad economic conditions when young can significantly predict higher entrepreneurship in later life. For example, experiencing at least one economic contraction during youth increases future self-employment/business ownership propensities by about 6/10% at the outcome means. Graduating from college and entering the job market in a bad economy cannot explain our results. Findings are robust to numerous methods of measuring economic contractions and controlling for behavioural measures as well as economic shocks experienced before and after the impressionable years.

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  • Sotirakopoulos, Panagiotis & Guven, Cahit & Ulker, Aydogan & Graham, Carol, 2021. "Macroeconomic Contractions during Impressionable Years and Entrepreneurship in Later Adulthood," GLO Discussion Paper Series 850, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:850

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Konon, Alexander & Fritsch, Michael & Kritikos, Alexander S., 2018. "Business cycles and start-ups across industries: An empirical analysis of German regions," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 33(6), pages 742-761.
    2. Audrey Light & Robert Munk, 2018. "Business Ownership versus Self†Employment," Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 435-468, July.
    3. Ekelund, Jesper & Johansson, Edvard & Jarvelin, Marjo-Riitta & Lichtermann, Dirk, 2005. "Self-employment and risk aversion--evidence from psychological test data," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(5), pages 649-659, October.
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    More about this item


    Impressionable Years Hypothesis; Entrepreneurship; Self-employment; Business Ownership; Economic Contractions; Gallup Data;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General

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