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Human Capital and the Private Equity Premium


  • Valery Polkovnichenko

    (University of Minnesota)


When capital market is imperfect, an entrepreneur has to invest substantial personal funds to start a firm and has to bear large firm-specific risk. Furthermore, if a typical entrepreneur is risk averse, private equity should earn a premium for idiosyncratic risk. In this paper I explore the interaction of human capital with the decision to become an entrepreneur. I calibrate a model of entrepreneurial choice to illustrate a significant attenuating effect of human capital on the premium for firm-specific risk. When an entrepreneur can quit the business and work for hire, the firm-specific risk premium is order of magnitude lower than without this option. While an entrepreneur puts at risk a substantial fraction of financial wealth, she does not commit all human capital to the current business. At stake is only the labor income forgone while managing the firm and the rest of human capital is unaffected by the business risk. Empirical evidence suggests that private equity does not earn any significant premium over publicly traded equity. The model with human capital is consistent with this observation, assuming typical entrepreneur forgoes a small expected return (1.5%) in lieu of intangible benefits of entrepreneurship. (Copyright: Elsevier)

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:red:issued:v:6:y:2003:i:4:p:831-845
    DOI: 10.1016/S1094-2025(03)00051-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Fossen, Frank M., 2012. "Risk attitudes and private business equity," Discussion Papers 2012/11, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
    2. Parker, Simon C. & van Praag, Mirjam C., 2006. "The Entrepreneur's Mode of Entry: Business Takeover or New Venture Start," IZA Discussion Papers 2382, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Akyol, Ahmet & Athreya, Kartik, 2011. "Credit and self-employment," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 363-385, March.
    4. Roessler, Christian & Koellinger, Philipp, 2012. "Entrepreneurship and organization design," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 888-902.
    5. Hintermaier, Thomas & Steinberger, Thomas, 2005. "Occupational choice and the private equity premium puzzle," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(10), pages 1765-1783, October.
    6. Jason DeBacker & Bradley Heim & Vasia Panousi & Shanthi Ramnath & Ivan Vidangos, 2012. "The properties of income risk in privately held businesses," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2012-69, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Kartik Athreya & Ahmet Akyol, 2007. "Unsecured Credit and Self-Employment," 2007 Meeting Papers 49, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    8. Simon Parker & Mirjam van Praag, 2004. "Schooling, Capital Constraints and Entrepreneurial Performance," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 04-106/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 07 Mar 2005.
    9. Galina Vereshchagina & Hugo A. Hopenhayn, 2009. "Risk Taking by Entrepreneurs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 1808-1830, December.
    10. Nikolai Roussanov, 2010. "Diversification and Its Discontents: Idiosyncratic and Entrepreneurial Risk in the Quest for Social Status," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 65(5), pages 1755-1788, October.
    11. Claudio Campanale, 2006. "Leraning, life-cycle and entrepreneurial investment," Working Papers. Serie AD 2006-29, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    12. Ander Pérez Orive, 2010. "Credit constraints, firms' precautionary investment and the business cycle," Economics Working Papers 1237, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2012.
    13. Christian Roessler & Philipp Koellinger, 2009. "Firm Formation with Complementarities: The Role of the Entrepreneur," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 09-003/3, Tinbergen Institute, revised 26 Jul 2011.
    14. Ander Pérez Orive, 2010. "Credit Constraints, Firms' Precautionary Investment, and the Business Cycle," Working Papers 506, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

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