Across countries, women own significantly fewer businesses than do men. We show that this is due, in large part, to the fact that the propensity to start businesses of women is significantly lower than that of men. The lower propensity of women, in turn, appears to be highly correlated to women’s lower average levels of optimism and self-confidence, and higher fear of failure. Ceteris paribus, women and men have different perceptions of the business environment and, as a result, make different decisions. We provide some evidence that this may be universally true and independent from culture, although country specific factors seem to influence perceptual differences between genders. We also show that women who are more self-confident and undeterred by failure have a greater probability to start a business than men with similar characteristics. Keywords: Nascent

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Tinbergen Institute
Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper Series
Discussion paper / Tinbergen Institute
Tinbergen Institute

Koellinger, P., Minniti, M., & Schade, C. (2008). Seeing the World with Different Eyes (No. TI 08-035/3). Discussion paper / Tinbergen Institute. Retrieved from