NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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J. Anthony Cookson

University of Colorado
995 Regent Dr.
Boulder CO 80309

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: University of Colorado

NBER Working Papers and Publications

June 2020Personal Wealth and Self-Employment
with Aymeric Bellon, Erik P. Gilje, Rawley Z. Heimer: w27452
We examine how wealth windfalls affect self-employment decisions using data on cash payments from claims on Texas shale drilling to people throughout the United States. Individuals who receive large wealth shocks (greater than $50,000) have 51% higher self-employment rates. The increase in self-employment rates is driven by individuals who lengthen existing self-employment spells, and not by individuals who leave regular employment for self-employment. Moreover, the effect of wealth reverts for individuals whose payments run out. Rather than alleviating a financial constraint, our evidence suggests that unrestricted cash windfalls affect self-employment decisions primarily through self-employment’s non-pecuniary benefits.
 
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