The Geographic Concentration of New Firm Formation and Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities
The role of education and human capital externalities is a key variable in theories of economic growth. However, the mechanism by which these externalities are realized has not been fully investigated. We examine the relationship between area differences in the levels of human capital and subsequent differences in new firm start-up rates. Firm start-ups are usually based on an innovation (in product, process, or market) that derives from utilization of new knowledge. We find that the new firm start-up rates in areas that function as integrated labor and consumer markets (city plus surrounding commuter area) are (1) positively related to the share of adults with college degrees, and also (2) positively related to higher levels of existing establishments in the same industry and area sector. The finding that higher concentrations of existing establishments in the same industry segment were strongly associated with higher startup rates suggests that spillover of relevant knowledge from other local business owners/managers and researchers within each industry contributes to greater innovation and growth in the area.
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