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Inferring the unobserved human capital of entrepreneurs

Author

Listed:
  • Arnab Bhattacharjee

    (University of-St Andrews)

  • Jean Bonnet

    (University of Caen Basse-Normandie, France - CREM-CNRS)

  • Nicolas Le Pape

    (University of Caen Basse-Normandie, France - CREM-CNRS)

  • Régis Renault

    (THEMA – CNRS)

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to study the role of unobserved human capital in entrepreneurial choice and its impact on the survival of newly created firms. Our starting point is that, when starting a new business, an entrepreneur’s labor market situation (e.g. employed or not) reflects how his human capital may be valuated through salaried labor. This in turn affects the entrepreneurial decision so that, an entrepreneur’s human capital should be correlated with the state at which he decided to start a new firm. We illustrate this point with descriptive statistics computed from a survey of French startups. These statistics show that the impact of education on the new firm’s survival is most pronounced for firms created by individuals salaried in their preferred branch of activity while it is rather limited if the entrepreneur was in the wrong branch or newly unemployed. In this paper we argue, both theoretically and empirically, that these results may be explained by some unobserved heterogeneity in the entrepreneur’s human capital that is correlated both with the initial labor market situation and with some observable measures of human capital such as education or experience. We first present a simple model of entrepreneurial choice that provides predictions about an entrepreneur’s actual human capital as a function of human capital observed by the econometrician as well as the individual’s state in the labor market when the firm was created. The model allows for some information asymmetry on the labor market as well as other sources of inefficiencies such as incentive problems due to moral hazard. It also allows in a simple way for some dynamic considerations on the part of the entrepreneur regarding potential depreciation of his human capital. We argue that the data may be best explained by a model where employer’s information on employee’s human capital is sufficiently poor and where there is a strong concern about human capital depreciation for those with a high level of observed human capital. We then run some duration analysis on our data on new firms’ survival by estimating a proportional hazard Cox model with partial maximum likelihood. The estimation results are coherent with the descriptive statistics on the impact of education on survival for different initial states of the entrepreneur. This econometric analysis will be completed with additional regressions that allow for correcting for unobserved heterogeneity in order to evaluate its magnitude and nature. We have done some preliminary work where unobserved heterogeneity is modelled through random effects (frailties) for different subgroups of individuals according to education level and experience that have a gamma distribution. Our preliminary results show that there is significant unobserved heterogeneity but the estimates of the frailties are consistent with the results obtained by running a standard Cox estimation.

Suggested Citation

  • Arnab Bhattacharjee & Jean Bonnet & Nicolas Le Pape & Régis Renault, 2006. "Inferring the unobserved human capital of entrepreneurs," Economics Working Paper Archive (University of Rennes 1 & University of Caen) 200603, Center for Research in Economics and Management (CREM), University of Rennes 1, University of Caen and CNRS.
  • Handle: RePEc:tut:cremwp:200603
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    File URL: https://crem-doc.univ-rennes1.fr/wp/2006/ie-200603.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Niels Bosma & Mirjam van Praag & Roy Thurik & Gerrit de Wit, 2004. "The Value of Human and Social Capital Investments for the Business Performance of Startups," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 227-236, October.
    2. 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 808-827, August.
    3. Kanbur, S M, 1979. "Of Risk Taking and the Personal Distribution of Income," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(4), pages 769-797, August.
    4. 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 719-748, August.
    5. Rafik Abdesselam & Jean Bonnet & Nicolas Le Pape, 2004. "An Explanation of the Life Span of New French Firms," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 237-254, October.
    6. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-670, May.
    7. 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.
    8. Bates, Timothy, 1990. "Entrepreneur Human Capital Inputs and Small Business Longevity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(4), pages 551-559, November.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Steven Stern, 1990. "The Effects of Firm Optimizing Behaviour in Matching Models," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(4), pages 647-660.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bhattacharjee, Arnab & Hany, Jie, 2010. "Financial Distress in Chinese Industry: Microeconomic, Macroeconomic and Institutional Infuences," SIRE Discussion Papers 2010-53, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    2. Jean Bonnet & Sébastien Bourdin & Fatten Gazzah, 2017. "The entrepreuneurial context, a factor of Economic Growth in the Europe Union? A GWR analysis on the EU Regions," Working Papers halshs-01619798, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Entrepreneurship; Labor Market; Human Capital Valuation; Information Asymmetries; Duration of the New Firm;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • C41 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods: Special Topics - - - Duration Analysis; Optimal Timing Strategies

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