Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Productivity Growth
This group tackles research topics that are of relevance for our understanding of patterns of innovation and productivity growth and explores implications for workers and firms. Areas of particular focus include the decline in business dynamism, the growth in automation, entrepreneurship and innovation, and supply chains.
Research ClusterProductivity and Institutions
The Characteristics and Geographic Distribution of Robot Hubs in U.S. Manufacturing Establishments
in: American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings, May 2023
We use establishment-level data from the US Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures to study the characteristics and geographic locations of investments in robots. We find that the distribution of robots is highly skewed across locations. Some locations, which we call Robot Hubs, have far more robots than one would expect even after accounting for industry and manufacturing employment. We characterize these Robot Hubs along several industry, demographic, and institutional dimensions. The presences of robot integrators, which specialize in helping manufacturers install robots, and of higher levels of union membership are positively correlated with being a Robot Hub.
Immigration and Entrepreneurship in the United States
in: American Economic Review: Insights, No. 1, 2022
Immigration can expand labor supply and create greater competition for native-born workers. But immigrants may also start new firms, expanding labor demand. This paper uses U.S. administrative data and other data resources to study the role of immigrants in entrepreneurship. We ask how often immigrants start companies, how many jobs these firms create, and how these firms compare with those founded by U.S.-born individuals. A simple model provides a measurement framework for addressing the dual roles of immigrants as founders and workers. The findings suggest that immigrants act more as "job creators" than "job takers" and that non-U.S. born founders play outsized roles in U.S. high-growth entrepreneurship
Changing Business Dynamism and Productivity: Shocks versus Responsiveness
in: American Economic Review, No. 12, 2020
The pace of job reallocation has declined in the United States in recent decades. We draw insight from canonical models of business dynamics in which reallocation can decline due to (i) lower dispersion of idiosyncratic shocks faced by businesses, or (ii) weaker marginal responsiveness of businesses to shocks. We show that shock dispersion has actually risen, while the responsiveness of business-level employment to productivity has weakened. Moreover, declining responsiveness can account for a significant fraction of the decline in the pace of job reallocation, and we find suggestive evidence this has been a drag on aggregate productivity.
Age and High-Growth Entrepreneurship
in: American Economic Review: Insights, No. 1, 2020
Many observers, and many investors, believe that young people are especially likely to produce the most successful new firms. Integrating administrative data on firms, workers, and owners, we study start-ups systematically in the United States and find that successful entrepreneurs are middle-aged, not young. The mean age at founding for the 1-in-1,000 fastest growing new ventures is 45.0. The findings are similar when considering high-technology sectors, entrepreneurial hubs, and successful firm exits. Prior experience in the specific industry predicts much greater rates of entrepreneurial success. These findings strongly reject common hypotheses that emphasize youth as a key trait of successful entrepreneurs.
Business Dynamics Statistics of High Tech Industries
in: Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, No. 1, 2020
Modern market economies are characterized by the reallocation of resources from less productive, less valuable activities to more productive, more valuable ones. Businesses in the High Tech sector play a particularly important role in this reallocation by introducing new products and services that impact the entire economy. In this paper we describe an extension to the Census Bureau’s Business Dynamics Statistics that tracks job creation, job destruction, startups, and exits by firm and establishment characteristics, including sector, firm age, and firm size in the High Tech sector. We preview the resulting statistics, showing the structural shifts in the High Tech sector over the past 30 years, including the surge of entry and young firm activity in the 1990s that reversed abruptly in the early‐2000s.
Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index: A New Employment Series for the US, Canada, and the UK
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 9, 2023
Small and young businesses are essential for job creation, innovation, and economic growth. Even most of the superstar firms start their business life small and then grow over time. Small firms have less internal resources, which makes them more fragile and sensitive to macroeconomic conditions. This suggests the need for frequent and real-time monitoring of the small business sector’s health. Previously this was difficult due to a lack of appropriate data. This paper fills this important gap by developing a new Intuit QuickBooks Small Business Index that focuses on the smallest of small businesses with at most 9 workers in the US and the UK and at most 19 workers in Canada. The Index aggregates a sample of anonymous Quick- Books Online Payroll subscriber data (QBO Payroll sample) from 333,000 businesses in the US, 66,000 in Canada, and 25,000 in the UK. After comparing the QBO Payroll sample data to the official statistics, we remove the seasonal components and use a Flexible Least Squares method to calibrate the QBO Payroll sample data against official statistics. Finally, we use the estimated model and the QBO Payroll sample data to generate a near real-time index of economic activity. We show that the estimated model performs well both in-sample and out-of-sample. Additionally, we use this analysis for different regions and industries. Keywords:
The (Heterogenous) Economic Effects of Private Equity Buyouts
in: IWH Discussion Papers, No. 10, 2022
The effects of private equity buyouts on employment, productivity, and job reallocation vary tremendously with macroeconomic and credit conditions, across private equity groups, and by type of buyout. We reach this conclusion by examining the most extensive database of U.S. buyouts ever compiled, encompassing thousands of buyout targets from 1980 to 2013 and millions of control firms. Employment shrinks 13% over two years after buyouts of publicly listed firms – on average, and relative to control firms – but expands 13% after buyouts of privately held firms. Post-buyout productivity gains at target firms are large on average and much larger yet for deals executed amidst tight credit conditions. A post-buyout tightening of credit conditions or slowing of GDP growth curtails employment growth and intra-firm job reallocation at target firms. We also show that buyout effects differ across the private equity groups that sponsor buyouts, and these differences persist over time at the group level. Rapid upscaling in deal flow at the group level brings lower employment growth at target firms.
Measuring the Impact of Household Innovation using Administrative Data
in: NBER Working Paper, No. 25259, 2018
We link USPTO patent data to U.S. Census Bureau administrative records on individuals and firms. The combined dataset provides us with a directory of patenting household inventors as well as a time-series directory of self-employed businesses tied to household innovations. We describe the characteristics of household inventors by race, age, gender and U.S. origin, as well as the types of patented innovations pursued by these inventors. Business data allows us to highlight how patents shape the early life-cycle dynamics of nonemployer businesses. We find household innovators are disproportionately U.S. born, white and their age distribution has thicker tails relative to business innovators. Data shows there is a deficit of female and black inventors. Household inventors tend to work in consumer product areas compared to traditional business patents. While patented household innovations do not have the same impact of business innovations their uniqueness and impact remains surprisingly high. Back of the envelope calculations suggest patented household innovations granted between 2000 and 2011 might generate $5.0B in revenue (2000 dollars).
Development of Survey Questions on Robotics Expenditures and Use in U.S. Manufacturing Establishments
in: Center for Economic Studies (CES) Working Paper Series, No. 44, 2018
The U.S. Census Bureau in partnership with a team of external researchers developed a series of questions on the use of robotics in U.S. manufacturing establishments. The questions include: (1) capital expenditures for new and used industrial robotic equipment in 2018, (2) number of industrial robots in operation in 2018, and (3) number of industrial robots purchased in 2018. These questions are to be included in the 2018 Annual Survey of Manufactures. This paper documents the background and cognitive testing process used for the development of these questions.
Early-Stage Business Formation: An Analysis of Applications for Employer Identification Numbers
in: NBER Working Paper, No. 24364, 2018
This paper reports on the development and analysis of a newly constructed dataset on the early stages of business formation. The data are based on applications for Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) submitted in the United States, known as IRS Form SS-4 filings. The goal of the research is to develop high-frequency indicators of business formation at the national, state, and local levels. The analysis indicates that EIN applications provide forward-looking and very timely information on business formation. The signal of business formation provided by counts of applications is improved by using the characteristics of the applications to model the likelihood that applicants become employer businesses. The results also suggest that EIN applications are related to economic activity at the local level. For example, application activity is higher in counties that experienced higher employment growth since the end of the Great Recession, and application counts grew more rapidly in counties engaged in shale oil and gas extraction. Finally, the paper provides a description of new public-use dataset, the “Business Formation Statistics (BFS),” that contains new data series on business applications and formation. The initial release of the BFS shows that the number of business applications in the 3rd quarter of 2017 that have relatively high likelihood of becoming job creators is still far below pre-Great Recession levels.