Petr Sedláček, Vincent Sterk, 25 April 2020

Startups are being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Introducing a ‘startup calculator’ that allows anyone to compute the aggregate employment losses under various economic scenarios, this column explores the effects of a decline in startup activity on aggregate employment. Job losses may be large and may last well beyond the pandemic itself.

Abhijit Banerjee, Emily Breza, Esther Duflo, Cynthia Kinnan, 30 March 2020

The idea of poverty traps being important for microenterprises is captured in the adage “it takes money to make money”. This column reports on a study following households in India exposed to different levels of microfinance. The findings reveal that microfinance has potentially transformative impacts for some entrepreneurs – especially those who without it were stuck in a poverty trap. However, for other households the effect is very small, suggesting that microlenders should consider more screening of households in order to provide some larger loans.

Artjoms Ivlevs, Milena Nikolova, Olga Popova, 21 February 2020

Following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, many former Communist Party members launched businesses. This column relies on individual-level survey data to document how entrepreneurial activity was driven by the connections, resources, and opportunities associated with former membership of the ruling party rather than by entrepreneurial skills or individual talent. The findings underscore the fact that former Communist Party networks continue to affect business practices in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Michael Roach, Henry Sauermann, John D. Skrentny, 24 November 2019

The propensity of foreign STEM talent to found or join startups in the US is widely recognised but little understood. Using unique longitudinal data from over 5,600 STEM PhDs, this column reveals that during graduate school, foreign students exhibit more entrepreneurial personality traits and career preferences than their native peers. After graduation, however, they are less likely to found companies or work in startups. These results suggest that US immigration policies may deter newly minted PhDs from participating in entrepreneurship.

Ufuk Akcigit, Emin Dinlersoz, Jeremy Greenwood, Veronika Penciakova, 24 September 2019

Differences between the majority of mediocre firms and the exceptional, innovative ones range from the founders’ backgrounds to their paths of innovation. This column assesses the impact of venture capital funding on the growth trajectories firms take. Employment and patenting data show venture capital-backed firms are likely to achieve greater success and contribute more significantly to the aggregate economy. The absence of venture capital funding would lower aggregate growth by 28%.

Katharina Erhardt, Simon Haenni, 27 May 2019

Firm entry is widely viewed as a central driver of economic growth, so understanding the role of culture in explaining differences in entrepreneurial activity is important. Using Swiss data on individuals’ cultural origins going back to the 18th century, this column compares the entrepreneurial activity of individuals who live in the same municipalities but who have their cultural origins on different sides of the language border. It finds that individuals with ancestry from the German-speaking side founded 20% more firms than those with ancestry from the French-speaking side. Yet, the cultural origin of the founder does not affect firm-level outcomes such as bankruptcy or revenues.  

Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, 21 September 2018

There is a contentious global debate surrounding the impact of immigrants on local labour markets. One less contentious aspect has been the notion that immigrant entrepreneurs can have major positive effects for the host economy. This column uses novel US data to explore how immigrant entrepreneurs affect local labour markets and compare with native entrepreneurs. Key findings include substantial geographic variation in immigrant startup rates, lower hiring and salaries, and slightly higher female ownership in immigrant-owned firms. 

Meghana Ayyagari, Vojislav Maksimovic, 25 March 2018

Recent press reports have highlighted the decline of US entrepreneurship. Using data on workers in 800+ occupations in over 1.2 million establishments, this column shows that there has been a decline not only in the number of new businesses in US manufacturing, but also in their size and quality. The proportion of cognitively demanding tasks at new firms has been declining substantially over time, pointing to a process of technological polarisation as incumbents upgrade human capital while entrants focus on low-skilled niches.

Vera Rocha, Mirjam van Praag, 10 March 2018

Women are substantially underrepresented in the areas of new venture creation and entrepreneurship. Using Danish data, this column examines an important social interaction that has been relatively overlooked as a possible influence on entrepreneurship choices – the relationship between bosses and employees in start-up firms. Working for a female founder has a strong positive effect on female employees’ likelihood of going on to found their own venture, pointing to the benefits of improving representation at the top.

Erika Färnstrand Damsgaard, Per Hjertstrand, Pehr-Johan Norbäck, Lars Persson, Helder Vasconcelos, 23 November 2017

Most developed economies provide significant subsidies to small businesses to encourage innovation. This column argues that while subsidies to reduce entry costs may increase entrepreneurial entry, they can also lead to a reduction in the likelihood of ‘breakthrough’ inventions. Entry costs, which are incurred when an innovation project is successful, prompt small firms and entrepreneurs to pursue high-risk, high-reward innovations.

Matthew Lindquist, Joeri Sol, Mirjam van Praag, Theodor Vladasel, 02 December 2016

Policies aimed at encouraging entrepreneurship are popular around the world, but a recent literature suggests that entrepreneurship might be more predetermined than previously thought. This column uses sibling correlations to tease apart the importance of genes, family background, and neighbourhood effects for later entrepreneurship. Parental entrepreneurship and genes are the two main drivers of sibling similarities in entrepreneurship. However, children do appear to be able to learn about entrepreneurship through their family and community, so it may be possible to teach relevant skills to young people.

Sari Pekkala Kerr, William Kerr, 10 August 2016

Increased hostility to immigration has been a key driver of the rise of right-wing populist movements across the world. At the same time, local governments – notably in the US – have designed work programmes to attract immigrant entrepreneurs to their areas. This column explores the types of businesses founded by immigrants and their growth patterns, and examines how these outcomes relate to immigrants’ age at arrival to the US. Immigrant entrepreneurs experience greater volatility – they fail more frequently, but those that persist experience greater employment growth than their native counterparts. 

Luigi Guiso, Luigi Pistaferri, Fabiano Schivardi, 03 April 2016

Entrepreneurship often concentrates in certain geographic locations, with Silicon Valley the most famous example today. While a large literature focuses on these cross-location differences in entrepreneurial density, questions remain about the supply of entrepreneurial skills across locations. Using Italian data, this column investigates whether selection into entrepreneurship is affected by learning opportunities in adolescence. Those who grow up in an area with higher entrepreneurial density are found to be more likely to become entrepreneurs themselves. They are also more likely to succeed and earn a higher income.

Ryan Decker, John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin, Javier Miranda, 19 March 2016

Recent evidence suggests that transformational entrepreneurial firms – those that introduce major innovations and make substantial contributions to growth – have been in decline. This column uses US micro data to explore the behaviour of high-growth young firms between 1980 and 2010. A decline in young firm activity in the 1980s and 1990s was dominated by young firms in the retail trade sector. In the post-2000 period, in contrast, a sharp decline in high-growth young businesses in key innovative sectors like high tech suggests there has been a decline in transformational entrepreneurs in this sector. 

Jamal Ibrahim Haidar, Takeo Hoshi, 21 October 2015

The Abe administration has outlined a desire for Japan to rank among the top three OECD countries in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking. This column uses the Doing Business ranking itself to identify potential reforms the country could pursue to improve its position. Several politically viable, non-judicial reforms could quickly and easily move Japan up in the ranking. The approach highlights how the Doing Business rankings can be used to inform policy reform discussions.

Mariacristina De Nardi, 11 July 2015

Wealth inequality is back in the spotlight, but its determinants and the saving behaviour generating it are less clear. This column discusses the mechanisms in dynamic quantitative macro models that give rise to wealth inequality. Different mechanisms give rise to similar observed wealth concentrations, but have very different policy implications. A combination of better empirical analysis and richer models is needed to guide policy.

Kirill Shakhnov, 17 January 2015

The rapid growth of the US financial sector has driven policy debate on whether it is socially desirable. This column examines the trade-off between finance and entrepreneurship, and links the growth of finance to rising wealth inequality. Although financial intermediation helps allocate capital efficiently, people choosing a career in finance do not internalise the negative effect on the pool of talented entrepreneurs. This mechanism can explain the simultaneous growth of wealth inequality and finance in the US, and why more unequal countries have larger financial sectors.


The Workshop will bring together researchers interested in studying entrepreneurship. We welcome submissions related to (occupational) choice, entrepreneurial behaviour, incentives to promote entrepreneurship, relevant program evaluations, entrepreneurship & institutions, the management of entrepreneurship and innovation, entrepreneurship & (venture) capital, financing entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship & regions, theory of the firm, etc. We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions (empirical work based on data of developing and developed countries).

The (draft) papers should be submitted by Saturday 31 January 2015.


Ejaz Ghani, William Kerr, Stephen O'Connell, 02 October 2014

Numerous countries have implemented seat reservations for women in politics over the past decades. Starting in the early 1990s, India’s flagship decentralisation reform instituted one-third seat reservations for women in local governance bodies. This column suggests that this political empowerment increased women’s economic empowerment through at least one channel, i.e. small-scale entrepreneurship. These findings suggest that political empowerment policies for women may additionally have beneficial economic effects in the longer run.

Manuel Adelino, Song Ma, David Robinson, 12 February 2014

There is a strong link between entrepreneurship and growth – young firms were responsible for almost all net job creation in the US economy over the last 30 years. This column presents new research into the responsiveness of firms of different ages to investment opportunities. Firms aged 0–23 months create about twice the total number of new jobs in response to local income shocks than firms that are more than six years old.



CEPR Policy Research