Grown-up business cycles
We document two striking facts about U.S. firm dynamics and interpret their significance for employment dynamics. The first is the dramatic decline in firm entry and the second is the gradual shift of employment toward older firms since 1980. We show that despite these trends, the lifecycle dynamics of firms and their business cycle properties have remained virtually unchanged. Consequently, aging is the delayed effect of accumulating startup deficits. Together, the decline in the employment contribution of startups and the shift of employment toward more mature firms contributed to the ...
Growing Rural America Through Startups
Rural places, by many measures, have tended to be less vibrant economically than metro areas, on average. Some small towns looking to create more job opportunities have tried to attract large businesses, while others have leaned on their natural amenities to draw residents and tourists. But another, less obvious, approach is in the running: entrepreneurship. New businesses contribute disproportionately to job and productivity growth, providing numerous benefits to a local community.
Entrepreneurship through Employee Mobility, Innovation, and Growth
Firm-level productivity differences are big and largely ascribed to ex-ante heterogeneity in the entrepreneurs’ growth potential at birth. Where do these ex-ante differences come from, and what can the policy do to encourage the entry of high-growth entrepreneurs? I study empirically and by means of a quantitative growth model the spinout firms: the firms founded by former employees of the incumbent firms. By focusing on innovating spinouts identified through the inventor mobility in the patent data, I document that spinout entrants significantly outperform regular entrants throughout their ...
Financial Constraints of Entrepreneurs and the Self-Employed
Growth-oriented entrepreneurial start-ups generate more economic growth than other self-employed businesses, yet they only constitute a small fraction of start-ups. We examine whether financial constraints impede these types of start-ups by exploiting lottery wins as exogenous wealth shocks. We find that lottery-win magnitude increases winners? subsequent incorporation, implying that entrepreneurs face financial constraints, but not business registration, implying that financial constraints do not bind as much for the self-employed. Our results, that financial constraints bind for ...
The Role of Startups for Local Labor Markets
We investigate the dynamic response of local U.S. labor markets to increased job creation by new firms and compare the effects to overall labor demand shocks. To account for both dynamic and spatial dependence we develop a spatial panel VAR that builds on recent advances in the VAR literature to identify structural shocks using external instruments. We find that startup shocks have a small but persistent effect on local employment through population growth. Population growth, in turn, is largely driven by immigration. We also investigate how the responses differ by local characteristics such ...
COVID-19 and SMEs: A 2021 "Time Bomb"?
This paper assesses the prospects of a 2021 time bomb in small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) failures triggered by the generous support policies enacted during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis. Policies implemented in 2020, on their own, do not create a 2021 time bomb for SMEs. Rather, business failures and policy costs remain modest. By contrast, credit contraction poses significant risk. Such a contraction would disproportionately affect firms that could have survived COVID-19 in 2020 without any fiscal support. Even in that scenario, most business failures would not arise from excessively ...
Wealth, tastes, and entrepreneurial choice
The nonpecuniary benefits of managing a small business are a first order consideration for many nascent entrepreneurs, yet the preference for business ownership is mostly ignored in models of entrepreneurship and occupational choice. In this paper, we study a population with varying entrepreneurial tastes and wealth in a simple general equilibrium model of occupational choice. This choice yields several important results: (1) entrepreneurship can be thought of as a normal good, generating wealth effects independent of any financing constraints; (2) nonpecuniary entrepreneurs select into ...
Getting Schooled: The Role of Universities in Attracting Immigrant Entrepreneurs
We study immigrant founders of venture-capital backed firms using a new and detailed data set that we assemble on the backgrounds of founders. Immigrant founders have been critical to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, accounting for roughly 20% of all venture capital-backed founders over the past 30 years. We document the channels through which immigrant founders arrive in the United States and how those channels have changed over time. Higher education has served as the primary entry channel for immigrant founders. The share of foreign-educated immigrant founders who initially arrive for work ...
Reflections: Small Businesses
An enviable aspect of the U.S. economy around the globe is our spirit of innovation, entrepreneurship, ease of business entry and exit, and labor market flexibility. These are key attributes of a dynamic economy, one that offers opportunities for people to live good and productive lives. Entrepreneurship – setting up and running one’s own business – has always been part of the narrative of the American dream, an avenue to creating and growing wealth, contributing to the community, and leaving a legacy for one’s family.
On the Optimality of Differential Asset Taxation
How should a utilitarian government balance redistributive concerns with the need to provide incentives for business creation and investment? Should they tax business profits, the (risk-free) savings of owners, or some combination of both? To address this question, this paper presents a model in which the desirability of differential asset taxation emerges endogenously from the presence of agency frictions. I consider an environment in which entrepreneurs hire workers and rent capital to produce output subject to privately observed shocks and have the ability to both divert capital to private ...