Education and entrepreneurship selection and performance: A review of the empirical literature

Justin Van Der Sluis*, Mirjam Van Praag, Wim Vijverberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


This paper provides a review of empirical studies into the impact of formal schooling on entrepreneurship selection and performance in industrial countries. We describe the main effects found in the literature, we explain the variance in results across almost a hundred studies, and we put the empirical results in the context of related economic theory and the much further developed literature in labor economics (studying the rate of return to education among wage employees). Five main conclusions result from this meta-analysis. First, the impact of education on selection into entrepreneurship is insignificant. Second, the effect of education on performance is positive and significant. Third, the return to a marginal year of schooling is 6.1% for an entrepreneur. Fourth, the effect of education on earnings is smaller for entrepreneurs than for employees in Europe, but larger in the USA. Fifth, the returns to schooling in entrepreneurship are higher in the USA than in Europe, higher for females than for males, and lower for non-whites or immigrants. In conclusion, we offer a number of suggestions to move the research frontier in this area of inquiry. The entrepreneurship literature on education can benefit from the technical sophistication used to estimate the returns to schooling for employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-841
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Economic Surveys
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 18 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Formal schooling
  • Industrialized countries
  • Meta-regression analysis
  • Performance
  • Selection

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