A Darwinian Perspective on Entrepreneurship: Evidence from China

Entrepreneurship is a key source of economic growth. In this paper, we study the (neglected) role of mating competition in promoting entrepreneurship. We examine data from China because the country provides unusual variations across regions in the degree of mating competition due to differentially skewed sex ratios. Since family wealth is an important status variable in the marriage market, the sex ratio imbalance has created a powerful additional incentive for wealth creation. We provide evidence that the imbalance promotes entrepreneurship and hard work. First, new domestic private firms are more likely to emerge from regions with a higher sex ratio imbalance. Second, the likelihood for parents with a son to be entrepreneurs rises with the local sex ratio. Third, households with a son in regions with a more skewed sex ratio demonstrate a greater willingness to accept relatively dangerous or unpleasant jobs and supply more work days. In contrast, the labor supply pattern by households with a daughter is unrelated to the sex ratio. Finally, regional GDP tends to grow faster in provinces with a higher sex ratio. We estimate that the skewed sex ratio contributes about 20% to the overall growth rate in recent years. Since the sex ratio imbalance will become worse in the near future, this growth effect is likely to persist.

Brief Bio

Dr. Shang-Jin Wei is the Director of the Jerome A. Chazen Institute of International Business, Professor of  inance and Economics, Professor of International Affairs, and N.T. Wang Professor of Chinese Business and Economy at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and School of International and Public Affairs, and Director of the Working Group on the Chinese Economy and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (US), and Research Fellow at the Center for Economic Policy Research (Europe).

Prior to his Columbia appointment, he was Assistant Director and Chief of Trade and Investment Division at the International Monetary Fund. He was the IMF’s Chief of Mission to Myanmar (Burma) in 2004. He previously held the positions of Associate Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, the New Century Chair in Trade and International Economics at the Brookings Institution, and Advisor at the World Bank. He has been a consultant to numerous government organizations including the U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, United Nations Economic Commission on Europe, and United Nations Development Program, the Asian Development Bank, and to private companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers. He holds a PhD in economics and M.S. in finance from theUniversity of California, Berkeley.


Speaker(s) Shing-Jin Wei
Columbia University, CEPR, and NBER
Date 19 Jan 2012 (Thursday)
Time 12:00 - 1:30 pm
Venue Room 3362 , DHSS conference room ( via Lifts 13 - 15 ) Academic Building