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Bankruptcy, Incorporation and the Nature of Entrepreneurial Risk

  • Jacob M. Short

    (University of Western Ontario)

  • Andy Glover

    (University of Minnesota)

Entrepreneurship is risky; entrepreneurs forgo wages and invest their time and resources into a business with large potential gains, but uninsurable risks. It is vital to know the extent of these risks, and the insurance available against them, in order to assess corporate tax and personal bankruptcy reforms. We document that incorporated entrepreneurs operate larger businesses, accumulate more wealth, and are on average more productive than unincorporated entrepreneurs. We embed the U.S. bankruptcy and incorporation legal systems in a quantitative macroeconomic theory of occupation, incorporation, and default choices that accounts for the cross-sectional facts. In the model, as in the U.S., incorporation provides insurance via limited liability beyond personal bankruptcy exemptions, at the expense of administrative burdens and an endogenous interest rate premium. Our model suggests that capital embodied shocks are important entrepreneurial risks. A calibrated economy in which each unit of installed capital entails a small probability (1.0%) of a catastrophic shock (full destruction of capital) is able to account for the data along multiple untargeted dimensions. We find the welfare gains for entrepreneurs from eliminating investment risk are huge (5.9% increase in annual consumption). And, the welfare loss from removing limited liability to be large.

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Paper provided by Society for Economic Dynamics in its series 2011 Meeting Papers with number 836.

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Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:red:sed011:836
Contact details of provider: Postal: Society for Economic Dynamics Marina Azzimonti Department of Economics Stonybrook University 10 Nicolls Road Stonybrook NY 11790 USA
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  1. Vincenzo Quadrini, 2000. "Entrepreneurship, Saving and Social Mobility," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, January.
  2. Marco Cagetti & Mariacristina De Nardi, 2005. "Entrepreneurship, frictions, and wealth," Working Paper Series WP-05-09, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. Igor Livshits & James MacGee & Mich�le Tertilt, 2007. "Consumer Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 402-418, March.
  4. Sumit Agarwal & Souphala Chomsisengphet & Chunlin Liu & Lawrence Mielnicki, 2005. "Impact of State Exemption Laws on Small Business Bankruptcy Decision," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 620-635, January.
  5. Kjetil Storesletten & Chris I. Telmer & Amir Yaron, 2000. "The Welfare Cost of Business Cycles Revisited: Finite Lives and Cyclical Variation in Idiosyncratic Risk," NBER Working Papers 8040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Césaire A. Meh & Yaz Terajima, 2008. "Unsecured Debt, Consumer Bankruptcy, and Small Business," Staff Working Papers 08-5, Bank of Canada.
  7. Fan, Wei & White, Michelle J, 2003. "Personal Bankruptcy and the Level of Entrepreneurial Activity," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 46(2), pages 543-67, October.
  8. Kartik B. Athreya & Ahmet Akyol, 2009. "Credit and self-employment," Working Paper 09-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  9. Satyajit Chatterjee & Dean Corbae & Makoto Nakajima & Jose-Victor Rios-Rull, 2007. "A quantitative theory of unsecured consumer credit with risk of default," Working Papers 07-16, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
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