Study: Troubled teens more likely to succeed as entrepreneurs

Richard Thompson Contributor
Font Size:

All of those detentions you got in high school might pay off, after all.

New research suggests that teenagers who cause trouble are more likely to become successful entrepreneurs than those who follow the rules.

A Wall Street Journal article cites a National Bureau of Economic Research study that compares characteristics of self-employed individuals who have incorporated businesses with salaried workers and self-employed workers whose businesses are not incorporated. While previous studies considered entrepreneurs under more blanket terms as all self-employed workers, the NBER paper defined entrepreneurs as self-employed individuals who work for incorporated businesses mainly because of the greater risks involved.

The authors of the study, economists Yona Rubinstein and Ross Levine, found that entrepreneurs are three times as likely to engage in dangerous activities than salaried workers. Such activities include playing hooky at school, shoplifting, marijuana use, drug dealing and assault.

“Of course, you have to be smart,” Levine noted. “But it’s a unique combination of breaking rules and being smart that helps you become an entrepreneur.”

Rubinstein and Levin also reported that entrepreneurs had higher levels of self-esteem while also scoring higher on aptitude tests, being more educated, and coming from more successful families.

Follow Richard on Twitter