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How institutions and gender differences in education shape entrepreneurial activity: a cross-national perspective

Selin Dilli () and Gerarda Westerhuis ()
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Selin Dilli: Utrecht University
Gerarda Westerhuis: Utrecht University

Small Business Economics, 2018, vol. 51, issue 2, 371-392

Abstract: Abstract Previous studies offer evidence that human capital obtained through education is a crucial explanation for cross-national differences in entrepreneurial activity. Recently, scholar attention has focused on the importance of education in subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for the promotion of entrepreneurial activity. To our knowledge, empirical evidence for this link is scarce, despite the emphasis made in the literature and by policy makers on the choice of study at the tertiary level. Given that differences in STEM education are particularly large between men and women, we utilize data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor for 19 European countries and the USA. We study the role of these differences in STEM education at the national level for three stages of the entrepreneurial process: entrepreneurial awareness, the choice of sector for entrepreneurial activity, and entrepreneurial growth aspirations. We also test whether the effects of gender differences in education is moderated by the nature of the institutional environment in which entrepreneurs operate. Our findings show that individual-level explanations including education account for the gender differences during all three stages of early-stage entrepreneurial activity. Moreover, countries with greater gender equality in science education are characterized by higher entrepreneurial activity in knowledge-intensive sectors and high-growth aspirations. Thus, next to individual-level education, closing the gender gap in science at the national level can benefit a country as a whole by stimulating innovative entrepreneurial activity.

Keywords: Field of education; Entrepreneurship; Gender; Institutions; L26; P1; P46; J16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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