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Sticking it Out: Entrepreneurial Survival and Liquidity Constraints

  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin
  • David Joulfaian
  • Harvey S. Rosen

This paper analyzes the role of liquidity constraints in the formation of new entrepreneurial enterprises. The basic empirical strategy is to determine whether an individual's wealth affects the probability of becoming an entrepreneur, and the conditional amounts of depreciable assets, ceteris paribus. If so, liquidity constraints are likely to be present. To be successful, such a research strategy requires a measure of asset variation that is both precisely measured and exogenous to the entrepreneurial decision. Our data are uniquely well-suited for this purpose. The sample consists of the 1981 and 1985 federal income tax returns of a group of people who received inheritances in 1982 and 1983, along with information on the size of those inheritances from a matched set of estate tax returns. Hence, we can examine how the exogenous receipt of capital affects the decision to become an entrepreneur and important financial characteristics of new enterprises. Our results suggest that the size of the inheritance has a substantial effect on the probability of becoming an entrepreneur, and that conditional on becoming an entrepreneur, the size of the inheritance has a statistically significant and quantitatively important effect on the amount of capital employed. These findings are consistent with the presence of liquidity constraints.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4494.

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Date of creation: Oct 1993
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Journal of Political Economy, February 1994, pp. 53-75.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4494
Note: PE
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  1. 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.
  2. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1994. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 25(2), pages 334-347, Summer.
  3. Steven M. Fazzari & R. Glenn Hubbard & BRUCE C. PETERSEN, 1988. "Financing Constraints and Corporate Investment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(1), pages 141-206.
  4. Bernard F. Lentz & David N. Laband, 1990. "Entrepreneurial Success and Occupational Inheritance among Proprietors," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 23(3), pages 563-79, August.
  5. Audretsch, David B, 1991. "New-Firm Survival and the Technological Regime," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(3), pages 441-50, August.
  6. Wilhelm, M.O., 1990. "Bequest Behavior And The Effect Of Heirs' Earnings: Testing The Altruistic Model Of Bequests," Papers 9-90-12, Pennsylvania State - Department of Economics.
  7. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey Rosen, 1992. "The Carnegie Conjecture: Some Empirical Evidence," Working Papers 682, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  8. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
  9. James J. Heckman, 1976. "The Common Structure of Statistical Models of Truncation, Sample Selection and Limited Dependent Variables and a Simple Estimator for Such Models," NBER Chapters, in: Annals of Economic and Social Measurement, Volume 5, number 4, pages 475-492 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Blanchflower, David G. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2007. "What Makes a Young Entrepreneur?," IZA Discussion Papers 3139, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Cox, Donald, 1987. "Motives for Private Income Transfers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 508-46, June.
  12. Evans, David S., 1986. "Tests of Alternative Theories of Firm Growth," Working Papers 86-36, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  13. Bruce D. Meyer, 1990. "Why Are There So Few Black Entrepreneurs?," NBER Working Papers 3537, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  15. Martha A. Schary, 1991. "The Probability of Exit," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 22(3), pages 339-353, Autumn.
  16. Lee, Lung-Fei, 1983. "Generalized Econometric Models with Selectivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(2), pages 507-12, March.
  17. Bates, Timothy, 1990. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 551-59, November.
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