NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Launching with a Parachute: The Gig Economy and New Business Formation

John M. Barrios, Yael V. Hochberg, Hanyi Yi

NBER Working Paper No. 27183
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Corporate Finance, Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship

The introduction of the gig economy creates opportunities for would-be entrepreneurs to supplement their income in downside states of the world and provides insurance in the form of an income fallback in the event of failure. We present a conceptual framework supporting the notion that the gig economy may serve as an income supplement and as insurance against entrepreneurial-related income volatility, and utilize the arrival of the on-demand, platform-enabled gig economy in the form of the staggered rollout of ridehailing in U.S. cities to examine the effect of the arrival of the gig economy on new business formation. The introduction of gig opportunities is associated with an increase of ~5% in the number of new business registrations in the local area, and a correspondingly-sized increase in small business lending to newly registered businesses. Internet searches for entrepreneurship-related keywords increase ~7%, lending further credence to the predictions of our conceptual framework. Both the income supplement and insurance channels are empirically supported: the increase in entry is larger in regions with lower average income and higher credit constraints, as well as in locations with higher ex-ante economic uncertainty regarding future wage levels and wage growth.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27183

 
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