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Skill-Biased Change in Entrepreneurial Technology

  • Poschke, Markus

    ()

    (McGill University)

In contrast to the very large literature on skill-biased technical change among workers, there is hardly any work on the importance of skills for the entrepreneurs who employ those workers, and in particular on their evolution over time. This paper proposes a simple theory of skill-biased change in entrepreneurial technology that fits with cross-country, historical and micro evidence. For this, it introduces two additional features into an otherwise standard occupational choice, heterogeneous firm model à la Lucas (1978): technological change does not benefit all potential entrepreneurs equally, and there is a positive relationship between an individual's potential payoffs in working and in entrepreneurship. If some firms consistently benefit more from technological progress than others, they stay closer to the frontier, and the others fall behind. Because wages rise for all workers, low-productivity entrepreneurs will then at some point exit and become workers. As a consequence, the entrepreneurship rate falls with income per capita, average firm size and firm size dispersion increase with income per capita, and "entrepreneurship out of necessity" falls with income per capita. The paper also documents, for two of the facts for the first time, that these are exactly the relationships prevailing in cross-country data. Quantitatively, the model fits the U.S. experience well. Using the parameters from a calibration to the U.S., the model also explains cross-country patterns quite well.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5202.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5202
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  1. James, John A. & Skinner, Jonathan S., 1985. "The Resolution of the Labor-Scarcity Paradox," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 45(03), pages 513-540, September.
  2. Huw Lloyd-Ellis & Dan Bernhardt, 2000. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 67(1), pages 147-168.
  3. Xavier Gabaix & Augustin Landier, 2006. "Why Has CEO Pay Increased So Much?," NBER Working Papers 12365, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Barton H. Hamilton, 2000. "Does Entrepreneurship Pay? An Empirical Analysis of the Returns to Self-Employment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(3), pages 604-631, June.
  5. Hernan Moscoso Boedo & Toshihiko Mukoyama, 2012. "Evaluating the effects of entry regulations and firing costs on international income differences," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 17(2), pages 143-170, June.
  6. Raghuram Rajan & Julie Wulf, 2004. "Are Perks Purely Managerial Excess?," NBER Working Papers 10494, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Robert Summers & Alan Heston, 1991. "The Penn World Table (Mark 5): An Expanded Set of International Comparisons, 1950–1988," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 327-368.
  8. Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1999. "Endogenous Technological Change and Wage Inequality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 47-77, March.
  9. Kihlstrom, Richard E & Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1979. "A General Equilibrium Entrepreneurial Theory of Firm Formation Based on Risk Aversion," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 719-48, August.
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