March 2013

IZA DP No. 7270: Entrepreneurship of the Left-Behind

published in: Research in Labor Economics, 2013, 37, 65-92. Pre-publication version available here

While there is evidence that return migration promotes entrepreneurship and self-employment of those who migrated, previous studies have not focused on whether migration provides the same benefits to individuals who did not migrate. Using a unique dataset that provides information on both current and return migrants in rural China (RUMiC), we investigate the impact of migration on entrepreneurship among individuals with no migration experience. We explore the self-employment choices of individuals who live in households with return migrants and individuals who live in households that have migrants currently in the city, comparing them with individuals living in non-migrant households. Our methodology allows us to control for the potential endogeneity between the migration and self-employment decisions. The results show that return migration promotes self-employment among household members that have not migrated. However, left-behind individuals are less likely to be self-employed when compared to those living in non-migrant households.