Women and early-stage entrepreneurship: evidence from a large cross-country sample

Recent studies suggest that entrepreneurship is an important source of employment for women. However, the number of women involved in entrepreneurial activity is significantly lower than that of men. This paper takes a detailed and comprehensive look of what variables correlate significantly with womens decisions to start new businesses. Data consists of a stratified representative sample of at least 2000 individuals per country, in 34 countries, for a total of more than 70,000 observations collected in 2004 for the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) project. The level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity and the levels of necessity and opportunity entrepreneurship are considered, as well as the relative importance of individual characteristics such as age, wealth, education, fear of failure and perceptions. Descriptive results presented in the paper are suggestive and much more work is needed in the area. However, the paper presents important evidence supporting the hypothesis that variables influencing subjective perceptions are important for womens decisions to start businesses and that such variables may be at the root of the observed differences in entrepreneurial behavioral across genders.

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