Small Business Economics

, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 981–999 | Cite as

Language skills and migrant entrepreneurship: evidence from China

  • Xiahai Wei
  • Yang JiaoEmail author
  • Glenn Growe


Business ownership constitutes a vital part of the economy. While many of the determinants of entrepreneurship have been intensively studied, the link between language proficiency and entrepreneurship has not. Using the Migrant Dynamics Monitoring Survey, this paper studies the importance of language skills for migrant entrepreneurship. We find that migrants who can understand and fluently speak the local dialect are more likely to become entrepreneurs. The effect of language on entrepreneurship is more pronounced in the urban fringe, towns, and rural areas, and especially where individuals migrate across different dialectal regions. Gaining local dialect skills influences positively the decision to become either a necessity- or an opportunity-driven entrepreneur.


Language skills Dialect Entrepreneurship Migrants China 


M13 M21 L26 



This project is funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 71873048) and Humanities and Social Science Foundation from China Ministry of Education (No. 18YJA790086). We would like to thank Haifeng Qian, and three referees for their valuable comments. We also thank Jiahui Li and Siyu Chen for their research assistance. All remaining errors are ours


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Economic Development and ReformHuaqiao UniversityFujianChina
  2. 2.Department of Economics Finance and AccountingFort Hays State UniversityKansasUSA

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