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  • Michael Lotspeich

Presentation of new working paper on military service as a significant event for entrepreneurship.

This past Monday, I delivered a colloquium presentation on how military service may serve as a life course event that alters entrepreneurial outcomes for women and racial/ethnic minorities. This presentation can be viewed at the end of this post.


Abstract

As a livelihood strategy, entrepreneurship can provide an income diversification opportunity for military veterans and economic growth for their communities. However, data limitations have meant that research on subgroups of military veteran entrepreneurs is limited—especially a growing number of military veterans that also identify as women or racial/ethnic minorities. Traditionally, women- and minority-owned firms have struggled to perform at the level of white, male-owned firms because of systematic disadvantages in their family history, socioeconomic position, and ability to access capital. This analysis is designed to extend an existing body of literature on the life course perspective to understand how the interruption of military service can affect the likelihood of entrepreneurial success for women and racial/ethnic minorities.

I hypothesize that this discontinuity allows individuals to overcome a lack of early-life opportunities that positively correlate with entrepreneurial outcomes. I test this notion by employing a restricted version of the American Community Survey to include spatial and temporal constraints that create an ‘entrepreneurial ecosystem.’ Net of all other factors, I find that women and racial/ethnic minorities that also identify as military veterans were more likely to identify as entrepreneurs than their non-veteran counterparts. However, the discontinuity of military service negatively affected the likelihood of white male military veterans identifying as entrepreneurs. The performance of these subgroups suggests that military service can be a pathway to entrepreneurship for underrepresented groups who would not otherwise be able to pursue these opportunities.



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