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The Geographic Concentration of New Firm Formation and Human Capital: Evidence from the Cities

  • Zoltan J Acs
  • Catherine Armington

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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Paper provided by Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau in its series Working Papers with number 03-05.

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Date of creation: Feb 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cen:wpaper:03-05
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  1. Alan B. Krueger & Jorn-Steffen Pischke, 1997. "Observations and Conjectures on the U.S. Employment Miracle," NBER Working Papers 6146, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Krugman, Paul, 1991. "Increasing Returns and Economic Geography," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 483-99, June.
  3. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1988. "On the mechanics of economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 3-42, July.
  4. Catherine Armington & Zoltan Acs, 2002. "The Determinants of Regional Variation in New Firm Formation," Regional Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(1), pages 33-45.
  5. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  9. Zoltan J. Acs & Felix R. FitzRoy & Ian Smith, 1999. "High-Technology Employment and R&D in Cities: Heterogeneity vs Specialization," CRIEFF Discussion Papers 9920, Centre for Research into Industry, Enterprise, Finance and the Firm.
  10. Jovanovic, Boyan & Rob, Rafael, 1989. "The Growth and Diffusion of Knowledge," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 56(4), pages 569-82, October.
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  13. Zoltan J Acs & Catherine Armington, 1998. "Longitudinal Establishment And Enterprise Microdata (LEEM) Documentation," Working Papers 98-9, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
  14. Audretsch, David B., 1995. "Innovation, growth and survival," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 441-457, December.
  15. Lazear, Edward, 2003. "Entrepreneurship," IZA Discussion Papers 760, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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