An interesting paper published this summer by Vivek Wadhwa et al.: “Anatomy of an Entrepreneur: Family Background and Motivation.”
The paper’s abstract:
“Entrepreneurs are among the most celebrated people in our culture. Celebrity entrepreneurs such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, often grace the covers of prominent publications. These company founders and innovators fuel economic growth and give the nation its competitive edge.
“However, very little is known today about the backgrounds, life histories, motivations and beliefs of these entrepreneurs. So myths and stereotypes prevail. The commonly held belief is that entrepreneurs are young, lightly-educated, childless unmarried workaholics. They are perceived to come from rich families and graduate from elite colleges.
“But is this true?
“This research answers some of these questions. This is based on a survey of 549 company founders in 12 high-growth industries.
“It finds that most founders came from middle-class or upper-lower-class backgrounds, are well-educated and married with children. The strongest motivation for starting a company was to ‘build wealth.’ Other popular motivators included capitalizing on a business idea; the appeal of a startup culture; a desire to own a company; and a lack of interest in working for someone else.”
Here’s the link to the paper at the Social Science Research Network.