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Self-Employment and Risk Preference

By S. Brown, M. Dietrich, A. Ortiz and K. Taylor


We explore the relationship between self-employment and attitudes towards financial risk using individual level data drawn from the U.S. Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) and the U.S. Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). Both surveys include questions, which enable us to construct measures of an individualĀ“s willingness to take risk allowing us to explore the implications of interpersonal differences in risk preference for the probability and success of self-employment. Our empirical findings suggest that willingness to take financial risk is positively associated with both the incidence and success of self-employment. We find that this relationship is particularly pronounced in cases where the individual actually started the business. Finally, we exploit the panel aspect of the PSID and find evidence consistent with a causal relationship between attitudes towards risk and self-employment with attitudes towards risk measured over 1969-1972 (i.e. prior to becoming self-employed) having a statistically significant positive influence on the probability of self-employment in 1996.\u

Publisher: Department of Economics, University of Sheffield
Year: 2007
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