Ethnic group size, linguistic isolation, and immigrant entrepreneurship in the USA

  • Mora M
  • Dávila A
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Abstract

Using a sample of immigrant men in US census data from the early and late 1900s and available in the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), this study explores: (1) whether immigrant entrepreneurship is positively affected by ethnic group size and linguistic isolation; (2) how sensitive these relationships are to English-language proficiency; and (3) if these relationships have remained stable over time. The empirical results indicate that the size of the local ethnic population does not enhance immigrant self-employment for either English-proficient or limited-English-proficient (LEP) men in the USA. In addition, while linguistic isolation in the local labour pool seems to promote entrepreneurship among English-fluent immigrants in certain cases, it appears to hinder business formation among the LEP. Finally, comparing the results across time-periods is consistent with the premise that rising xenophobia pushes a disproportionate share of the LEP into self-employment.
Using a sample of immigrant men in US census data from the early and late 1900s and available in the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS), this study explores: (1) whether immigrant entrepreneurship is positively affected by ethnic group size and linguistic isolation; (2) how sensitive these relationships are to English-language proficiency; and (3) if these relationships have remained stable over time. The empirical results indicate that the size of the local ethnic population does not enhance immigrant self-employment for either English-proficient or limited-English-proficient (LEP) men in the USA. In addition, while linguistic isolation in the local labour pool seems to promote entrepreneurship among English-fluent immigrants in certain cases, it appears to hinder business formation among the LEP. Finally, comparing the results across time-periods is consistent with the premise that rising xenophobia pushes a disproportionate share of the LEP into self-employment.

Author-supplied keywords

  • English proficiency
  • Ethnic markets
  • Immigrant entrepreneurship
  • Self-employment

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Authors

  • Marie T. Mora

  • Alberto Dávila

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