Entrepreneurial Firms and Job Creation: Size Matters Not
| Peter Klein |
The view that small and new firms create a disproportionate share of new jobs is one of the most important stylized facts of the entrepreneurship literature. But, as always, the devil is in the details. Small and new firms naturally grow at a faster rate than their large, mature counterparts, ceteris paribus, simply because they have few employees to start with. But they differ on a number of other grounds and have a higher hazard rate. What’s the bottom line?
John Haltiwanger, Ron Jarmin, and Javier Miranda have taken a close look at the US data and conclude that age, not size, is what matters.
There’s been a long, sometimes heated, debate on the role of firm size in employment growth. Despite skepticism in the academic community, the notion that growth is negatively related to firm size remains appealing to policymakers and small business advocates. The widespread and repeated claim from this community is that most new jobs are created by small businesses. Using data from the Census Bureau Business Dynamics Statistics and Longitudinal Business Database, we explore the many issues regarding the role of firm size and growth that have been at the core of this ongoing debate (such as the role of regression to the mean). We find that the relationship between firm size and employment growth is sensitive to these issues. However, our main finding is that once we control for firm age there is no systematic relationship between firm size and growth. Our findings highlight the important role of business startups and young businesses in U.S. job creation. Business startups contribute substantially to both gross and net job creation. In addition, we find an “up or out” dynamic of young firms. These findings imply that it is critical to control for and understand the role of firm age in explaining U.S. job creation.