Education and Self-Employment: South Asian Immigrants in the US Labor Market

33 Pages Posted: 3 May 2014

See all articles by Nabamita Dutta

Nabamita Dutta

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse

Saibal Kar

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta; Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)

Sanjukta Roy

World Bank Institute


Does higher educational attainment lead to greater participation in self-employment? Available studies agree and disagree on this subject through various explanations. We invoke an empirical example from the experiences of immigrants moving from poor countries to rich countries. Further, we focus exclusively on the self-employment participation among south Asian immigration in the United States (using IPUMS Data), which the related literature has clearly neglected thus far despite long traditions of successful business ventures. We establish that higher educational attainment for immigrants from south Asia reduces the likelihood of being self-employed. In fact, a South Asian immigrant with higher educational attainment has 10% less chance of being self-employed than one without. In addition, we show that factors such as longer stay in USA and being a male, affect the likelihood of being self-employed positively. However, another interesting finding of our paper is that being a 'citizen immigrant' affects the probability of being self-employed positively. Though citizen immigrants with higher education attainment are less likely to choose self-employment, the probability is relatively higher in comparison to the non-citizen immigrant group with similar levels of education. This trend lends itself to a more than proportionate participation in self-employment by the citizen immigrants and the difference with immigrant non-citizen group becomes statistically significant. These results have various static and dynamic implications for the native labor market in host countries.

Keywords: immigration, occupation, microdata, USA, South Asia

JEL Classification: J11, J15, J24

Suggested Citation

Dutta, Nabamita and Kar, Saibal and Roy, Sanjukta, Education and Self-Employment: South Asian Immigrants in the US Labor Market. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8152, Available at SSRN:

Nabamita Dutta (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin - La Crosse ( email )

1725 State Street
La Crosse, WI 54601
United States

Saibal Kar

Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta ( email )

R-1, Baishnabghata Patuli Township
Calcutta, 700 094
91-33-2462 7252 (Phone)
91-33-2462 6183 (Fax)


Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Sanjukta Roy

World Bank Institute ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics