Working Paper No. 944

The Psychology of the Entrepreneur and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

Published: November 29, 2012; revised October 2013Pages: 46Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Self-employment; Gender differences; Personality traitsJEL-codes: D03; D80; J16; L26

The Psychology of the Entrepreneur and the Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship Ola Bengtsson, Tino Sanandaji and Magnus Johannesson

Self-employment is often used as synonymous with entrepreneurship. We define entrepreneurship as having the ambition to grow or innovate. As part of a large and representative survey in Sweden, business owners were asked to self-identify as either entrepreneurs or self-employed. The survey in addition contains detailed questions on economic preferences, attitudes and behaviors as well as psychometrically validated measures of personality traits.

We document significant psychological differences between self-identified entrepreneurs and the self-identified self-employed. Entrepreneurs differ substantially from the population; they are less risk and ambiguity averse, more aware of opportunity costs, exhibit greater tolerance of greed and are less behaviorally inhibited. With the notable exception of risk aversion the self-employed do not differ appreciably from wage-earners on most psychological characteristics.

An interesting application of the distinction made above is gender differences in entrepreneurship.  Measured psychological characteristics can account for one third of the large gender gap in entrepreneurship, but only one tenth of the smaller gender gap in self-employment. Men are one and a half times more likely to be self-employed than females but five times more likely to be entrepreneurs


Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

Sick of Inequality.jpg

In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


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To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

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