.ISSN (e) 1759-7331
(print) 1759-7323
Quantitative Economics
An open-access journal in quantitative economics
Journal of the
Econometric Society
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Quantitative Economics, Volume 10, Issue 2 (May 2019)

The right stuff? Personality and entrepreneurship

Barton H. Hamilton, Nicholas W. Papageorge, Nidhi Pande


We construct a structural model of entry into self‐employment to evaluate the impact of policies supporting entrepreneurship. Previous work has recognized that workers may opt for self‐employment due to the nonpecuniary benefits of running a business and not necessarily because they are good at it. Other literature has examined how socio‐emotional skills, such as personality traits, affect selection into self‐employment. We link these two lines of inquiry. The model we estimate captures three factors that affect selection into self‐employment: credit constraints, relative earnings, and preferences. We incorporate personality traits by allowing them to affect sector‐specific earnings as well as preferences. The estimated model reveals that the personality traits that make entrepreneurship profitable are not always the same traits driving people to open a business. This has important consequences for entrepreneurship policies. For example, subsidies for small businesses do not attract talented‐but‐reluctant entrepreneurs, but instead attract individuals with personality traits associated with strong preferences for running a business and low‐quality business ideas.

Entrepreneurship personality socioemotional skills latent factors J23 J24 J31 J32

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