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Risk Taking by Entrepreneurs

  • Galina Vereshchagina
  • Hugo A. Hopenhayn

Entrepreneurs bear substantial risk, but empirical evidence shows no sign of a positive premium. This paper develops a theory of endogenous entrepreneurial risk taking that explains why self-financed entrepreneurs may find it optimal to invest in risky projects offering no risk premium. Consistently with empirical evidence, the model predicts that poorer entrepreneurs are more likely to undertake risky projects. It also finds that incentives for risk taking are stronger when agents are impatient. (JEL G31, G32, L25, L26)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 5 (December)
Pages: 1808-30

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:5:p:1808-30
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.5.1808
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  1. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1994. "Monetary Policy, Business Cycles, and the Behavior of Small Manufacturing Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 309-340.
  2. Richard Ericson & Ariel Pakes, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82.
  3. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhayn, . "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," GSIA Working Papers 2002-E9, Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business.
  4. Aubhik Khan & B. Ravikumar, 2002. "Costly Technology Adoption and Capital Accumulation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(2), pages 489-502, April.
  5. Vincenzo Quadrini, 2000. "Entrepreneurship, Saving and Social Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, January.
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  7. Cressy, Robert, 2000. "Credit rationing or entrepreneurial risk aversion? An alternative explanation for the Evans and Jovanovic finding," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 235-240, February.
  8. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  9. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
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  11. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2000. "Entrepreneurship and Household Saving," NBER Working Papers 7894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Kartik B. Athreya & Ahmet Akyol, 2009. "Credit and self-employment," Working Paper 09-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  13. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  14. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2006. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(1), pages 229-265.
  15. Timothy Dunne & Mark J. Roberts & Larry Samuelson, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U. S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-698.
  16. Bohacek, Radim, 2006. "Financial constraints and entrepreneurial investment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2195-2212, November.
  17. Anna L. Paulson & Robert M. Townsend & Alexander Karaivanov, 2006. "Distinguishing Limited Liability from Moral Hazard in a Model of Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 100-144, February.
  18. Valery Polkovnichenko, 2003. "Human Capital and the Private Equity Premium," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 6(4), pages 831-845, October.
  19. Greenwood, Jeremy & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1988. "Financial Development, Growth, And The Distribution Of Income," Working Papers 88-12, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  20. Robert E. Lucas Jr., 1978. "On the Size Distribution of Business Firms," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 9(2), pages 508-523, Autumn.
  21. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1992. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction, and Employment Reallocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 819-863.
  22. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
  23. Evans, David S., 1986. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Working Papers 86-36, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  24. Steven Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & Bruce C. Petersen, 1987. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," NBER Working Papers 2387, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  26. John Heaton & Deborah Lucas, 2000. "Portfolio Choice and Asset Prices: The Importance of Entrepreneurial Risk," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(3), pages 1163-1198, 06.
  27. Rogerson, Richard, 1988. "Indivisible labor, lotteries and equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 3-16, January.
  28. Gentry William M. & Hubbard R. Glenn, 2004. "Entrepreneurship and Household Saving," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-57, August.
  29. S. Rao Aiyagari, 1993. "Uninsured idiosyncratic risk and aggregate saving," Working Papers 502, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  30. Milton Friedman & L. J. Savage, 1948. "The Utility Analysis of Choices Involving Risk," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 279.
  31. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  32. Rui Albuquerque & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2002. "Optimal Lending Contracts and Firm Dynamics," RCER Working Papers 493, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  33. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
  34. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 8876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Rui Albuquerque & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2004. "Optimal Lending Contracts and Firm Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(2), pages 285-315.
  36. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 745-778, September.
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