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Entrepreneurship and Inequality


ISBN: 978-0-76231-191-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-336-5

Publication date: 1 July 2005


Nations with high levels of economic inequality tend to have high rates of entrepreneurial activity. In this paper, we develop propositions about this relationship, based upon current research. Although we provide some descriptive analyses to support our propositions, our paper is not an empirical test but rather a theoretical exploration of new ideas related to this topic. We first define entrepreneurship at the individual and societal level and distinguish between entrepreneurship undertaken out of necessity and entrepreneurship that takes advantage of market opportunities. We then explore the roles that various causes of economic inequality play in increasing entrepreneurial activity, including economic development, state policies, foreign investment, sector shifts, labor market and employment characteristics, and class structures. The relationship between inequality and entrepreneurship poses a potentially disturbing message for countries with strong egalitarian norms and political and social policies that also wish to increase entrepreneurial activity. We conclude by noting the conditions under which entrepreneurship can be a source of upward social and economic mobility for individuals.


Lippmann, S., Davis, A. and Aldrich, H.E. (2005), "Entrepreneurship and Inequality", Keister, L.A. (Ed.) Entrepreneurship (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-31.



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