This paper uses the American Community Survey to examine the previously overlooked fact that foreign STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) graduates have much lower self-employment rates than their non-STEM counterparts, with an unconditional difference of 3.3 percentage points. We find empirical support for differing earnings opportunities as a partial explanation for this self-employment gap. High wages in STEM paid-employment combined with reduced earnings in self-employment make self-employment less desirable for STEM graduates. High self-employment rates among other foreign-born workers partially reflect weak paid-employment opportunities. Public policy should encourage efficient use of worker skills rather than low-value business venture creation.
self-employment immigration foreign-born college major STEM earnings