Title: The self-employment experience of immigrants: evidence from the US General Social Survey, 1977-2004

Authors: Erwin R. Tiongson

Addresses: Europe and Central Asia Regional Unit, The World Bank, 1818 H Street, NW, Washington, DC 20433, USA

Abstract: This paper uses biennial data from the General Social Survey (GSS) to reexamine the self-employment experience of immigrants over the 1977-2004, yielding a database of 25 individual years with over 36,000 observations. The regression results suggest that the conditional probability of self-employment is higher among immigrants, though there is evidence that it has fallen, and then rebounded, over time. Self-employment is also significantly related to age, educational attainment, race, marital status, occupation, industry of employment and family background. However, these are generally less important in explaining self-employment among immigrants. Some variables such as marital status or homeownership (a proxy for access to capital) are associated with native self-employment, but not migrant self-employment. We look at 'latent entrepreneurship' and find no evidence that preferences for self-employment vary by immigrant status. Taking everything together, we speculate that immigrants may be self-selected into self-employment, independent of their individual characteristics and stated preferences.

Keywords: migrant self-employment; immigrants; preferences; entrepreneurship; small business.

DOI: 10.1504/IJESB.2012.047433

International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, 2012 Vol.16 No.3, pp.336 - 365

Available online: 19 Jun 2012 *

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