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Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship

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  • Pierre Azoulay
  • Benjamin F. Jones
  • J. Daniel Kim
  • Javier Miranda

Abstract

Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. Integrating administrative data on firms, workers, and owners, we study start-ups systematically in the United States and find that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Benjamin F. Jones & J. Daniel Kim & Javier Miranda, 2020. "Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 65-82, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aerins:v:2:y:2020:i:1:p:65-82
    DOI: 10.1257/aeri.20180582
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    2. Danz, David, 2020. "Never underestimate your opponent: Hindsight bias causes overplacement and overentry into competition," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 588-603.
    3. Adela Luque & Michaela Dillon & Julia Manzella & James Noon & Kevin Rinz & Victoria Udalova, 2019. "Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics (NES-D): Exploring Longitudinal Consistency and Sub-national Estimates," Working Papers 19-34, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    4. Backman, Mikaela & Karlsson, Charlie, 2020. "Age of managers and employees – Firm survival," The Journal of the Economics of Ageing, Elsevier, vol. 15(C).
    5. J. David Brown & John S. Earle & Mee Jung Kim & Kyung Min Lee, 2017. "High-Growth Entrepreneurship," Working Papers 17-53, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    6. Rudic, Biljana & Hubner, Sylvia & Baum, Matthias, 2021. "Hustlers, hipsters and hackers: Potential employees’ stereotypes of entrepreneurial leaders," Journal of Business Venturing Insights, Elsevier, vol. 15(C).
    7. Sarada, Sarada & Andrews, Michael J. & Ziebarth, Nicolas L., 2019. "Changes in the demographics of American inventors, 1870–1940," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    8. Camarero Garcia, Sebastian & Hansch, Michelle, 2020. "The effect of unemployment insurance benefits on (self-)employment: Two sides of the same coin?," ZEW Discussion Papers 20-062, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    9. Sebastian Doerr & Thomas Drechsel & Donggyu Lee, 2021. "Income inequality, financial intermediation, and small firms," BIS Working Papers 944, Bank for International Settlements.
    10. Pierre Azoulay & Benjamin F. Jones & J. Daniel Kim & Javier Miranda, 2020. "Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review: Insights, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 65-82, March.
    11. Gillian Gray & Helen Lawton Smith, 2020. "Experience versus youth: An exploratory study of the motivations of older entrepreneurs," Working Papers 46, Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research, revised Aug 2020.
    12. Tania Babina & Wenting Ma & Christian Moser & Paige Ouimet & Rebecca Zarutskie, 2019. "Pay, Employment, and Dynamics of Young Firms," Working Papers 19-23, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    13. Ren Lu & Qi Lu & Daguo Lv & Yuxiang Huang & Shuping Li & Ze Jian & Torger Reve, 2020. "The Evolution Process Of Entrepreneurship Studies In The 21st Century: Research Insights From Top Business And Economics Journals," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(4), pages 922-951, September.
    14. Yalcintas, Murat & Iyigun, Oykü & Karabulut, Gokhan, 2021. "Personal Characteristics and Intention for Entrepreneurship," GLO Discussion Paper Series 808, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    15. Koutroumpis, Pantelis & Leiponen, Aija & Thomas, Llewellyn D.W., 2020. "Small is big in ICT: The impact of R&D on productivity," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1).
    16. Suraiya Ishak & Ahmad Raflis Che Omar & Lokhman Hakim Osman & Nur Syaheera Mohd Jasli & Mohd Yusof Hussain, 2021. "The Single Mother Entrepreneurs Business Growth Conundrum: What Matters?," International Journal of Asian Social Science, Asian Economic and Social Society, vol. 11(3), pages 137-153, March.
    17. Huang, Bin & Tani, Massimiliano & Zhu, Yu, 2021. "Does Higher Education Make You More Entrepreneurial? Causal Evidence from China," IZA Discussion Papers 14310, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    18. Tania Babina & Sabrina T. Howell, 2018. "Entrepreneurial Spillovers from Corporate R&D," NBER Working Papers 25360, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Adela Luque & Renuka Bhaskar & James Noon & Kevin Rinz & Victoria Udalova, 2019. "Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics (NES-D): Using Administrative and Census Records Data in Business Statistics," Working Papers 19-01, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
    20. Xiahai Wei & Yang Jiao & Glenn Growe, 2019. "Language skills and migrant entrepreneurship: evidence from China," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 53(4), pages 981-999, December.
    21. Mahieu, Jeroen, 2020. "Creative Destruction? Local Business Conditions and the Earnings of Employees at Startups," MPRA Paper 98557, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    22. Wim Naudé, 2019. "New Technology, Entrepreneurship and the Revival of Manufacturing in Africa: Opportunities for Youth and Women?," Working Papers idrcdpru4ir, University of Cape Town, Development Policy Research Unit.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • O31 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Innovation and Invention: Processes and Incentives

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