The Cost of Financing Education: Can Student Debt Hinder Entrepreneurship?
Forthcoming, Management Science
50 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015 Last revised: 4 Nov 2017
Date Written: November 1, 2017
We find that student debt is negatively related to the propensity to start a firm, particularly larger and more successful ventures. An exogenous change due to the Higher Education Amendments of 1998, which made student debt completely non-dischargeable through personal bankruptcy, reduced the likelihood of entrepreneurship by student loan borrowers that were already in four-year college at the time of this regulation. Moreover, an exogenous shock to the level of student debt due to the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 negatively impacts entrepreneurship rates for students already in four-year college at the time of this regulation. Entrepreneurs with more student debt are more likely to fall behind on their student debt payments, and this relation is mitigated when their ventures are successful. Our evidence indicates that student debt inhibits entrepreneurship by exacerbating the effect of negative business outcomes on the individual.
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