Skilled Human Capital and High-Growth Entrepreneurship: Evidence from Inventor Inflows
To what extent does high-growth entrepreneurship depend on skilled human capital? We estimate the impact of the inflow of inventors into a region on the founding of high-growth firms, instrumenting mobility with the county-level share of millions of inventor surnames in the 1940 U.S. Census. Inventor immigration increases county-level high-growth entrepreneurship; estimates range from 29-55 immigrating inventors for each new high-growth firm, depending on the region and model. We also find a smaller but significant negative effect of inventor arrival on entrepreneurship in nearby counties.
The authors thank Guan Cheng Li for invaluable research assistance. We also thank participants in the NBER Productivity Seminar for comments and suggestions. We gratefully acknowledge financial support from The Coleman Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership, the National Science Foundation (1360228), and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.