Research

Working Papers

"Returns to entrepreneurial experience over the business cycle" (revise and resubmit at Journal of Economics & Management Strategy)

In this paper, I investigate business-cycle related dynamics in returns to entrepreneurial experience. Using geographic variation in the severity and timing of the Great Recession, I disentangle the effects of declining potential profit and alternative employment options on differences in firm survival between serial and nascent entrepreneurs. Survival model estimates indicate that serial entrepreneurs perform better than nascent entrepreneurs when average income is lower, but they are more likely to exit when slack increases in the labor market. I find that these dynamics are driven by differences in both access to financial resources and business strategies.

Working Paper

"Refined by Fire: The Great Depression and Entrepreneurship" with Christos Makridis (MIT Sloan)

Industrial production in the United States declined by 47 percent between 1929 and 1933. Motivated by the potential effects that the Great Depression may have had on family and habit formation, this paper quantifies how the severity of the Great Depression within a location may affect contemporaneous entrepreneurship rates. On one hand, a more severe decline in productivity could have persistent effects that adversely affect entrepreneurship today. On the other hand, a more severe decline could have prompted individuals growing up during the Great Depression to become more entrepreneurial and frugal, thereby influencing the values that they emphasized to their children. Consistent with the latter hypothesis, we find that a one percentage point increase in retail sales growth is associated with a 0.04 percentage point decline in entrepreneurship two generations later. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, we explore the role of personal experience as a moderating factor, finding that children of individuals in areas more affected by the Depression are more financially sophisticated.

Working Paper

"Can equity crowdfunding close the gender gap in startup finance?" (Under Review)

It is well documented that firms led by females do not obtain capital investment at the same rate as males. Equity crowdfunding, the process of offering securities online to a group of investors, offers a solution to this problem by increasing firm access to investors. In this study, I evaluate the effects of the 2012 legalization of accredited equity crowdfunding on relative funding receipt by female-founded startups in the United States. Using a novel dataset of startups and financing sources, I find that the entry of equity crowdfunding decreased the difference in average funding received by male entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs by 17.9 percent.

Working Paper

Media Mentions: American Economic Association, Written Description

"Equity crowdfunding and geographic frictions in startup finance"

Research on crowdfunding is divided regarding crowdfunding's influence on geographic differences in the supply of startup finance. In this study, I evaluate whether the legalization of equity crowdfunding in the United States increased financing in areas where traditional capital investment is lacking. Using a novel startup financing dataset, I find that financing to businesses increased following legalization, and that equity crowdfunding had a greater impact on financing in counties where traditional banking is less competitive. The results suggest that equity crowdfunding can mitigate the financial limitations of starting a business in a geographic region where the supply of traditional investors is lower.

Working Paper

"The long-run influence of local economic conditions on financial decision-making"

A growing literature in economics explores the relationship between personal experiences with the business cycle and belief/preference formation. There exists substantial evidence using national variation in business cycles that personal experiences hold substantial weight in decision-making. However, the use of national aggregates limits researchers to the use of variation in decisions across birth-cohorts. Using state-level personal income for the majority of the 20th century, I investigate whether individual investment decisions are altered by sub-national economic fluctuations. Along with providing evidence that preferences/beliefs about investment begin to form in late childhood, my results suggest that children who grew up in states with lower average personal income invest less in risky assets throughout their lives, invest more in property, and are less likely to be self employed.

Working Paper

Media Mentions: Investor's Chronicle, The New Statesman

Work in Progress

"Market structure and performance incentives"

"Migration and the Civilian Conservation Corps" with Price Fishback (University of Arizona) and Shari Eli (University of Toronto)