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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. 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.
  2. Rui Albuquerque & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2004. "Optimal Lending Contracts and Firm Dynamics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 285-315, 04.
  3. 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.
  4. Dunne, Timothy & Roberts, Mark J & Samuelson, Larry, 1989. "The Growth and Failure of U.S. Manufacturing Plants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 104(4), pages 671-98, November.
  5. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  6. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  7. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1993. "Monetary policy, business cycles and the behavior of small manufacturing firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-4, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  8. Kartik Athreya & Ahmet Akyol, 2009. "Credit and self-employment," Working Paper 09-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  9. 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.
  10. Gian Luca Clementi & Hugo Hopenhayn, 2002. "A Theory of Financing Constraints and Firm Dynamics," RCER Working Papers 492, University of Rochester - Center for Economic Research (RCER).
  11. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  12. William M. Gentry & R. Glenn Hubbard, 2000. "Entrepreneurship and Household Saving," NBER Working Papers 7894, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Richard Rogerson, 2010. "Indivisible Labor, Lotteries and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 250, David K. Levine.
  16. Evans, David S, 1987. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(4), pages 657-74, August.
  17. Aubhik Khan & B. Ravikumar, 1998. "Costly Technology Adoption and Capital Accumulation," Development and Comp Systems 9802001, EconWPA.
  18. Aiyagari, S Rao, 1994. "Uninsured Idiosyncratic Risk and Aggregate Saving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(3), pages 659-84, August.
  19. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  20. 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.
  21. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2005. "Entrepreneurship, frictions, and wealth," Working Paper Series WP-05-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  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. 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.
  24. Joao F. Gomes, 2001. "Financing Investment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1263-1285, December.
  25. Steve J. Davis & John Haltiwanger, 1991. "Gross Job Creation, Gross Job Destruction and Employment Reallocation," NBER Working Papers 3728, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Bohacek, Radim, 2006. "Financial constraints and entrepreneurial investment," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(8), pages 2195-2212, November.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. Ericson, Richard & Pakes, Ariel, 1995. "Markov-Perfect Industry Dynamics: A Framework for Empirical Work," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 53-82, January.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
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