AdvisorFishback, Price V.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis dissertation covers several themes in the economics of entrepreneurship and individual risk-taking. The first two chapters explore themes in the economics of entrepreneurship. The third chapter investigates how past experiences influence individual risk-taking. It is well known that firms led by females and those located in areas lacking developed financial markets struggle to obtain capital investment. Equity crowdfunding, the process of financing a business with investment from a group of individuals over the internet, offers a solution to this problem by increasing firm access to investors. This fundraising process is not permitted in most parts of the world, but was recently legalized in the United States through the 2012 JOBS Act. In the first chapter of this dissertation, I evaluate the effects of the legalization of accredited equity crowdfunding on startup financing in the United States. Using a novel dataset of startups and financing sources, I find that the entry of accredited equity crowdfunding mitigated the negative effects of limited local capital and decreased the gender gap in entrepreneurial finance. I estimate that the gender gap in total funding to firms decreased by 20 percentage points after equity crowdfunding was legalized, cutting the gap between total funding to male entrepreneurs and total funding to female entrepreneurs in half. When economic conditions are poor, entrepreneurs may rely more on previous experiences to survive. The second chapter of this dissertation uses geographic variation in the timing and magnitude of the Great Recession to identify whether the value of previous entrepreneurial experience in firm survival varies over the business cycle. Using a panel dataset of U.S. firms between 2004 and 2011, I show that the survival gap between serial and first-time entrepreneurs grows as economic conditions decline. Serial entrepreneurs perform better overall and their survival advantage over first-time entrepreneurs is larger as unemployment rates increase and average personal income decreases. I find that countercyclical dynamics in the value of entrepreneurial experience are driven by differences in access to financial resources and business strategies. In the third chapter of this dissertation, I evaluate the influence of economic conditions in childhood on investment decisions in adulthood. Using state-level income data matched with household investment data from the Panel Study of Income Dyanmics Wealth Supplement, I estimate fixed-effects linear regression models that exploit income variation across states and within birth-year cohorts. This enables me to isolate the influence of childhood economic conditions on decision-making from confounding factors that are collinear with birth cohort. I find that higher levels of state income during late childhood (12-17) increase stock investment in adulthood and decrease investment in savings accounts. The effect of state income during childhood on adult investment is larger in magnitude for those who were born during the interwar period (1919-1940). The results suggest that past dynamics in sub-national economic conditions may have a significant influence on regional, within birth-cohort differences in investment and wealth accumulation.
Degree ProgramGraduate College