I recently took an Uber driven by a gentleman who informed me that he had recently arrived from Turkey. He said that he had followed his son over, who was attending medical school here in Chicago. The fellow looked like he was nearing sixty years of age. I thought it quite impressive for a man to migrate to an entirely different country at that stage of life.
My mother had come over from Belfast, Northern Ireland at the tender age of nineteen. I’ve always imagined how overwhelmed she must have felt coming to a strange country at such a young age, but at least she had many years ahead of her if things didn’t work out. That was one advantage my new Turkish acquaintance lacked. But as if merely immigrating to a strange country wasn’t courageous enough, this guy informed me that he was also starting his own business here. His willingness to undertake such a risk in his newly adopted country is truly impressive.
I have to wonder: Do immigrants tend to be more naturally entrepreneurial than the rest of us? And do those of us who are U.S.-born and bred have a prevailing tendency to avoid risk and play it safe?
Did something change over the past generation? Did native-born Americans transform from risk-takers to risk-avoiders as the country got considerably richer during that time?
Anyone who dares to migrate to a new and strange country is certainly a huge risk-taker. That would certainly indicate a personality prone to entrepreneurship. And perhaps the regulatory climate of the countries immigrants come from have a lot to do with that, too. A country whose government imposes all sorts of needlessly intrusive regulations and licensing requirements for every little transaction–state-sanctioned extortion, essentially–is most likely to spur an underground economy of black market business people.
Perhaps I’ll get off my lazy butt and see if there’s been any solid research on this.