Using a large sample of individuals in 28 countries, we investigate what variables are significantly correlated with an individual's decision to become an entrepreneur. Following existing literature in economics, we link such a decision to demographic and economic characteristics. In addition, we argue that perceptual variables such as alertness to opportunities, fear of failure, and confidence about one's own skills are also important. Our results suggest that perceptual variables are significantly correlated with new business creation across all countries in our sample and across gender. Although our data do not allow the identification of causal relationships, our findings suggest that, when making decisions, nascent entrepreneurs rely significantly on subjective and often biased perceptions rather than on objective expectations of success. Thus, perceptual variables should be included in economic models of entrepreneurial behavior. © Springer 2005.
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