A multiplicity of barriers: The self-employment of immigrant Hispanic women in the United States

Primary author: Samuel Mindes

Primary college/unit: Arts and Sciences
Campus: Pullman


A range of factors influences the economic opportunities for Hispanic women. These barriers include family construction, such as marital status, children at home, and living arrangements. Economic opportunities also hinge on educational and employment history, the status of the local economy, the composition of the local community, and a range of other individual characteristics. Indeed, these critical barriers overlap and interact with cultural expectations. Chiefly to this is immigration status, which is a crucial backdrop to these barriers due to cultural tensions and family expectations. These barriers are particularly central to shaping involvement in the self-employment sector, which is more contingent on these dynamics than wage work. Furthermore, self-employed business incorporation also hinges on these and other factors. We investigate how personal, familial, and social factors influence self-employment propensity and business incorporation for Hispanic women at the intersection of Hispanic group membership and immigrant status. While incorporation offers essential benefits, such as protection of assets, credibility, access to capital, and tax advantages, it also requires more capital and thus has additional barriers. For Hispanic women, barriers to economic success are numerous. However, self-employment can be both an opportunity to find success or a last-ditch effort to have some source of income. Through statistical modeling of American Community Survey data, we explain the impact of individual and social characteristics on the self-employment of Hispanic women in the United States. Our results find that one’s immigrant generation and Hispanic group is central to shaping the impact of individual, family, and social characteristics.