January 2002

IZA DP No. 417: Taking a Second Chance: Entrepreneurial Restarters in Germany

published in: Applied Economics Quarterly, 2003, 49 (3), 255-272

Folklore has it that the comparatively low proportion of self-employed in Germany is in part due to a habit that might be termed 'stigmatisation of failure': taking a second chance to build one's own firm after failing as a self-employed is said to be much more difficult here than in other countries. This paper uses data from a large recent survey in ten German planning regions to document that 18 percent of today’s firm owners founded a firm in the past that went out of business in between, and that 8 percent of people who went out of business with their former firm are actively engaged in starting a new business today. The determinants of such a restart are investigated econometrically. It turns out that both individual and regional factors are important for the probability of taking a second chance: This probability is negatively related to age, attitude towards risk, and the share of persons in the region who failed in the past, while it is positively related to personal contacts with a young entrepreneur and the regional share of nascent entrepreneurs.