Immigrant Entrepreneurship in America: Evidence from the Survey of Business Owners 2007 & 2012

by Sari Pekkala Kerr and William R. Kerr
 
 

Overview — How do businesses created by immigrants differ from those of natives? This study using the 2007 and 2012 Survey of Business Owners records finds that while immigrant-owned businesses have a modestly different industry composition than native-owned businesses, there are ten-fold differences across states in terms of the share of businesses owned by immigrants.

Author Abstract

We study immigrant entrepreneurship and firm ownership in 2007 and 2012 using the Survey of Business Owners (SBO). The survival and growth of immigrant-owned businesses over time relative to native-founded companies is evaluated by linking the 2007 SBO to the Longitudinal Business Database (LBD). We quantify the dependency of the United States as a whole, as well as individual states, on the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs in terms of firm formation and job creation. We describe differences in the types of businesses started by immigrants and the quality of jobs created by their firms. First-generation immigrants create about 25% of new firms in the United States, but this share exceeds 40% in some states. In addition, Asian and Hispanic second-generation immigrants start about 6% of new firms. Immigrant-owned firms, on average, create fewer jobs than native-owned firms, but much of this is explained by the industry and geographic location of the firms. Immigrant-owned firms pay comparable wages, conditional on firm traits, to native-owned firms, but are less likely to offer benefits.

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