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Has Wal-Mart Buried Mom and Pop?: The Impact of Wal-Mart on Self Employment and Small Establishments in the United States


  • Russell S. Sobel

    (Department of Economics & Entrepreneurship Center, West Virginia University)

  • Andrea M. Dean

    (Department of Economics & Entrepreneurship Center, West Virginia University)


Saving traditional small ‘mom and pop’ businesses has been a justification for political and court decisions preventing Wal-Mart from opening new stores virtually everywhere across the United States. We present the first rigorous econometric investigation of how Wal-Mart actually impacts the small business sector. We examine the rate of self-employment and the number of smallemployer establishments using both time-series and cross-sectional data. Contrary to popular belief, our results suggest that the process of creative destruction unleashed by Wal-Mart has had no statistically significant long-run impact on the overall size and profitability of the small business sector in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Russell S. Sobel & Andrea M. Dean, 2006. "Has Wal-Mart Buried Mom and Pop?: The Impact of Wal-Mart on Self Employment and Small Establishments in the United States," Working Papers 06-05 Classification- JEL, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:06-05

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emek Basker, 2005. "Job Creation or Destruction? Labor Market Effects of Wal-Mart Expansion," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 174-183, February.
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    3. Andrew W. Franklin, 2001. "The impact of Wal-Mart supercenters on supermarket concentration in U.S. metropolitan areas," Agribusiness, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(1), pages 105-114.
    4. Case, Anne C, 1991. "Spatial Patterns in Household Demand," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(4), pages 953-965, July.
    5. Michael R. Darby & Lynne G. Zucker, 2003. "Growing by leaps and inches: creative destruction, real cost reduction, and inching up," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, issue Sep, pages 13-42.
    6. Steven F. Kreft & Russell S. Sobel, 2005. "Public Policy, Entrepreneurship, And Economic Freedom," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 25(3), pages 595-616, Fall.
    7. Stone, Kenneth E., 1995. "Impact of Wal-Mart Stores and Other Mass Merchandisers in Iowa, 1983-1993," Staff General Research Papers Archive 5101, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    8. Schiller, Bradley R & Crewson, Philip E, 1997. "Entrepreneurial Origins: A Longitudinal Inquiry," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(3), pages 523-531, July.
    9. W. Michael Cox & Richard Alm, 1992. "The churn--the paradox of progress," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, pages 5-11.
    10. Dawson, John W, 1998. "Institutions, Investment, and Growth: New Cross-Country and Panel Data Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 603-619, October.
    11. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-664, August.
    12. Hicks, Michael J. & Wilburn, Kristy L., 2001. "The Regional Impact of Wal-Mart Entrance: A Panel Study of the Retail Trade Sector in West Virginia," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 31(3), pages 305-313, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fernando Borraz & Juan Dubra & Daniel Ferrés & Leandro Zipitría, 2014. "Supermarket Entry and the Survival of Small Stores," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 44(1), pages 73-93, February.
    2. Charles Courtemanche & Art Carden, 2014. "Competing with Costco and Sam's Club: Warehouse Club Entry and Grocery Prices," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 565-585, January.
    3. Kolko, Jed & Neumark, David, 2010. "Does local business ownership insulate cities from economic shocks?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 103-115, January.
    4. Brooks, Lara & Whitacre, Brian E. & Muske, Glenn & Woods, Michael D., 2008. "Entrepreneurial Communities in Rural Oklahoma," 2008 Annual Meeting, February 2-6, 2008, Dallas, Texas 6829, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Michael J. Hicks, 2006. "Transportation and infrastructure, retail clustering, and local public finance: evidence from Wal-Mart's expansion," Regional Economic Development, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Oct, pages 100-114.
    6. Fernando Borraz & Juan Dubra & Daniel Ferrés & Leandro Zipitría, 2013. "Supermarket Entry and The Survival of Small Stores," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1303, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    7. Pope, Devin G. & Pope, Jaren C., 2015. "When Walmart comes to town: Always low housing prices? Always?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 1-13.
    8. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2011. "Supersizing supercenters? The impact of Walmart Supercenters on body mass index and obesity," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 165-181, March.
    9. Art Carden & Charles Courtemanche, 2009. "Wal-Mart, Leisure, And Culture," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(4), pages 450-461, October.
    10. Michael Hicks, 2015. "Does Wal-Mart Cause an Increase in Anti-Poverty Expenditures?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1136-1152, December.
    11. Ting Zhu & Vishal Singh & Anthony Dukes, 2011. "Local competition, entry, and agglomeration," Quantitative Marketing and Economics (QME), Springer, vol. 9(2), pages 129-154, June.
    12. King, Roger & Peng, Winnie Qian, 2013. "The effect of industry characteristics on the control longevity of founding-family firms," Journal of Family Business Strategy, Elsevier, vol. 4(4), pages 281-295.
    13. Donald Vandegrift & John Loyer, 2015. "The Effect Of Walmart And Target On The Tax Base: Evidence From New Jersey," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 159-187, March.
    14. Cho, Janghee & Chun, Hyunbae & Lee, Yoonsoo, 2015. "How does the entry of large discount stores increase retail employment? Evidence from Korea," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 559-574.
    15. Stephan J. Goetz & Sundar S. Shrestha, 2009. "Explaining Self-Employment Success and Failure: Wal-Mart Versus Starbucks, or Schumpeter Versus Putnam," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(1), pages 22-38.
    16. repec:spr:amsrev:v:6:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s13162-016-0086-z is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Shrestha, Sundar S. & Goetz, Stephan J. & Rupasingha, Anil, 2007. "Proprietorship Formations and U.S. Job Growth," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 37(2), pages 146-168.
    18. Matthew Olczak, 2015. "Chain-Store Pricing and the Structure of Retail Markets," Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 87-104, June.
    19. James LeSage & Matthew Dominguez, 2012. "The importance of modeling spatial spillovers in public choice analysis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 525-545, March.
    20. Courtemanche, Charles & Carden, Art, 2009. "The skinny on big box retailing: Wal-Mart, warehouse clubs, and obesity," MPRA Paper 25326, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • L81 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Retail and Wholesale Trade; e-Commerce
    • D59 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Other
    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models

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