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Entrepreneurs: Jacks of all Trades or Hobos?

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Abstract

Human capital investment theory suggests that entrepreneurs should be generalists, while those who work for others should be specialists; it also predicts higher incomes for entrepreneurs with generalist skills. An alternative view predicts that those with greater taste for variety are more likely to become entrepreneurs and that entrepreneurs will see their incomes decrease with greater skill variety. Data from a survey of 830 independent inventors and 300 individuals from the general population confirm that inventor-entrepreneurs typically have a more varied labor market experience. However, the more varied their experience, the lower their household income. The results support the interpretation that both choice of entrepreneurship and investment in generalist skills are driven by a taste for variety.

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