Using data from representative population surveys in 17 countries, we find that the lower rate of female business ownership is primarily due to women's lower propensity to start businesses rather than to differences in survival rates across genders. We show that women are less confident in their entrepreneurial skills, have different social networks and exhibit higher fear of failure than men. After controlling for endogeneity, we find that these variables explain a substantial part of the gender gap in entrepreneurial activity. Although, of course, their relative importance varies significantly across countries, these factors appear to have a universal effect.

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Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Koellinger, P., Minniti, M., & Schade, C. (2013). Gender Differences in Entrepreneurial Propensity. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 75(2), 213–234. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0084.2011.00689.x