Discussion paper

DP10997 Learning Entrepreneurship From Other Entrepreneurs?

We document that individuals who grew up in areas with high density of firms are more likely, as adults, to become entrepreneurs, controlling for the density of firms in their current location. Conditional on becoming entrepreneurs, the same individuals are also more likely to be successful entrepreneurs, as measured by business income or firm productivity. Strikingly, firm density at entrepreneur?s young age is more important than current firm density for business performance. These results are not driven by better access to external finance or intergenerational occupation choices. They are instead consistent with entrepreneurial capabilities being at least partly learnable through social contacts. In keeping with this interpretation, we find that entrepreneurs who at the age of 18 lived in areas with a higher firm density tend to adopt better managerial practices (enhancing productivity) later in life.


Guiso, L, L Pistaferri and F Schivardi (2015), ‘DP10997 Learning Entrepreneurship From Other Entrepreneurs?‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 10997. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp10997