Open for Business

Migrant Entrepreneurship in OECD Countries

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Migrants contribute to the economic growth of their host countries in many ways, bringing new skills and competencies with them and helping to reduce labour shortages.  An aspect that has received only limited attention up to now is migrants’ contribution to entrepreneurial activity and employment creation in their host countries.  In OECD countries, entrepreneurship is slightly higher among immigrants than natives and the total number of persons employed in migrant businesses is substantial, although the survival rate of these businesses is often lower than that of their native counterparts. Migrant entrepreneurship has gone beyond traditional ethnic businesses, into a wide range of sectors and innovative areas.

Greater knowledge of migrant entrepreneurship is essential if policy makers are to better support migrant enterprises and their role in economic growth and job creation. In addition, increasing awareness of the positive role that migrants can play as entrepreneurs could contribute to a more balanced public debate on immigration.   Taking a cross-country perspective, this publication sheds light on these issues and more, discussing policy options to foster the development and success of migrant businesses. It is a compilation of papers presented at a June 2010 conference organised by the OECD Secretariat, with the financial support of the Swedish and Turkish authorities, and the Dutch-Turkish Businessmen Association (HOTIAD).


Mexican-American entrepreneurs and their contribution to the US economy

This chapter examines Mexican-American business formation, ownership and performance. Comparisons are made to other racial and ethnic groups in the United States and to the national average; distinctions are made between first, second and third-generation Mexican-Americans. It also explains the potential causes of low rates of business formation among Mexican-Americans and the relative under-performance of their businesses. It examines the contribution of Mexican-American entrepreneurs to the US economy. Specifically, it estimates the percentage of new businesses, business owners and total business income generated by Mexican business owners, who make an important contribution to the US economy. However, there remains much untapped potential among this group of firms because of the substantial barriers they face. Mexican-Americans represent almost 10% of the US population, and if current trends continue will become the largest minority group in the country in a decade. Thus, removing barriers to entry and expansion faced by Mexican-American owned businesses would bring an important contribution to the increase of total US productivity.


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