It is something almost everyone has fantasized about at one point or another: having a big sum of money land in your lap. What would you do if you won the lottery or inherited a nice sum of money? Do you think the answer to that question would depend on your gender and marital status?
Robert Sauer and Tanya Wilson, economists in Great Britain, have studied one particular way that people sometimes change their lives after inheriting money – they start their own businesses. Inheriting money can increase anyone’s odds of becoming an entrepreneur if that interests them. But it turns out that, in the UK, the link between inheriting money and starting a business of one’s own is especially strong for single women. For single men, married men, and married women, whether they get an inheritance is less relevant to whether they will start their own business.
Bella DePaulo an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart"
Editor: Muhammad Talha
Often, when economists want to know how financial resources affect entrepreneurship, they look at the value of the property that people own or their overall wealth. Sauer and Wilson did that, too, but those measures did not matter as much as getting an inheritance. The difference, they believe, is that inherited wealth is more liquid. You get it, and you can use it. You don’t have to, say, sell your house first.
So why is it that getting an inheritance matters more for starting a business for single women than anyone else? The authors don’t know for sure, but one of them, Tanya Wilson, offered these three possible explanations to Science Bulletin:
- They may be targets of discrimination when it comes to getting credit.
- They may have less of the collateral they would need to secure a loan.
- Maybe they are more risk averse and would not want to borrow money even if they could get it.
Regardless of why single women have, in the jargon, the most severe liquidity constraints, once they do have liquid assets, they are especially likely to put them toward starting a business of their own. Perhaps countries that care about such things should make it easier for single women to get those assets – especially if it is discrimination that has been standing in their way.