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The Labor Market, the Decision to Become an Entrepreneur, and the Firm Size Distribution

  • Markus Poschke

Why do some people become entrepreneurs, how do institutions affect this choice, and how does this affect the firm size distribution and aggregate productivity? This paper addresses this question using a matching model with occupational choice and heterogeneity in both ability as a worker and ex ante unknown productivity of firm start-ups. This rich setting allows to address effects of heterogeneity and diverse types of institutions, like labor market institutions, entry restrictions, taxes, which can possibly differ by firm size and thereby allow addressing informality. Importantly, the model allows for a comparatively flexible lower tail of the firm size distribution and can explain the existence and persistence of small, low-productivity firms with low profits: their owners have low outside options in the labor market. Key effects from a preliminary analysis are the following: labor market conditions affect incentives to start firms differently for workers and the unemployed, with repercussions on aggregate productivity; and they affect the expected value of firm creation due to the possibility of failure. Labor market frictions can have a new effect here: they shape prospective entrepreneurs' value of failure. Given that failure of new projects is common, they can strongly affect not only entry rates, but also the type of firms that enter.

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Paper provided by Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ in its series Cahiers de recherche with number 11-2012.

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Length: 33 pages
Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mtl:montec:11-2012
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  1. Lars Ljungqvist, 2002. "How Do Lay--off Costs Affect Employment?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 829-853, October.
  2. Markus Poschke, 2012. "Who Becomes an Entrepreneur? Labor Market Prospects and Occupational Choice," Cahiers de recherche 13-2012, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  3. Miller, Robert A, 1984. "Job Matching and Occupational Choice," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(6), pages 1086-120, December.
  4. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2003. "Entrepreneurship, frictions and wealth," Working Papers 620, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  5. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  6. William Hawkins & Daron Acemoglu, 2010. "Equilibrium Unemployment in a Generalized Search Model," 2010 Meeting Papers 1040, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  7. Richard E. Caves, 1998. "Industrial Organization and New Findings on the Turnover and Mobility of Firms," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(4), pages 1947-1982, December.
  8. Hintermaier, Thomas & Steinberger, Thomas, 2002. "Occupational Choice and the Private Equity Premium Puzzle," Economics Series 122, Institute for Advanced Studies.
  9. Bertola, Giuseppe, 2002. "A Pure Theory of Job Security and Labour Income Risk," CEPR Discussion Papers 3430, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  10. Erzo G. J. Luttmer, 2007. "Selection, Growth, and the Size Distribution of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1103-1144, 08.
  11. Enrico Santarelli & Marco Vivarelli, 2007. "Entrepreneurship and the process of firms’ entry, survival and growth," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(3), pages 455-488, June.
  12. Hopenhayn, Hugo A, 1992. "Entry, Exit, and Firm Dynamics in Long Run Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(5), pages 1127-50, September.
  13. Fonseca, Raquel & Lopez-Garcia, Paloma & Pissarides, Christopher A., 2001. "Entrepreneurship, start-up costs and employment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 692-705, May.
  14. Hopenhayn, Hugo & Rogerson, Richard, 1993. "Job Turnover and Policy Evaluation: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(5), pages 915-38, October.
  15. Christopher A. Pissarides, 2000. "Equilibrium Unemployment Theory, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262161877, June.
  16. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jørgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 745-778, September.
  17. Tobias J. Moskowitz & Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "The Returns to Entrepreneurial Investment: A Private Equity Premium Puzzle?," NBER Working Papers 8876, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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