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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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    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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