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Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship

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  • Pierre Azoulay
  • Benjamin Jones
  • J. Daniel Kim
  • Javier Miranda

Abstract

Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. We use administrative data at the U.S. Census Bureau to study the ages of founders of growth-oriented start-ups in the past decade. Our primary finding is that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean founder age for the 1 in 1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are broadly similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre Azoulay & Benjamin Jones & J. Daniel Kim & Javier Miranda, 2018. "Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship," NBER Working Papers 24489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:24489
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L26 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Entrepreneurship
    • O51 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - U.S.; Canada

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