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The Capital Structure Decisions of New Firms

  • Alicia M. Robb
  • David T. Robinson

We study capital structure choices that entrepreneurs make in their firms' initial year of operation, using restricted-access data from the Kauffman Firm Survey. Firms in our data rely heavily on external debt sources, such as bank financing, and less extensively on friends-and-family-based funding sources. Many startups receive debt financed through the personal balance sheets of the entrepreneur, effectively resulting in the entrepreneur holding levered equity claims in their startups. This fact is robust to numerous controls, including credit quality. The reliance on external debt underscores the importance of credit markets for the success of nascent business activity. The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Society for Financial Studies. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please e-mail:, Oxford University Press.

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Article provided by Society for Financial Studies in its journal The Review of Financial Studies.

Volume (Year): 27 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 153-179

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Handle: RePEc:oup:rfinst:v:27:y:2014:i:1:p:153-179
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  1. Michael L. Lemmon & Michael R. Roberts & Jaime F. Zender, 2008. "Back to the Beginning: Persistence and the Cross-Section of Corporate Capital Structure," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 63(4), pages 1575-1608, 08.
  2. Andy Cosh & Douglas Cumming & Alan Hughes, 2009. "Outside Enterpreneurial Capital," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 119(540), pages 1494-1533, October.
  3. Erik Hurst & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 319-347, April.
  4. Fairlie, Robert W. & Krashinsky, Harry A., 2006. "Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship Revisited," IZA Discussion Papers 2201, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Manju Puri & David Robinson, 2005. "Optimism and Economic Choice," NBER Working Papers 11361, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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