Fresh Start Policies and Small Business Activity: Evidence From a Natural Experiment
95 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2023
Date Written: March 14, 2022
There is no consensus in the academic literature on whether personal bankruptcy laws should be creditor-friendly or debtor-friendly in order to promote entrepreneurship and small business activity. This paper contributes to that literature by analyzing the effect of the introduction of a fresh start policy in Spain in 2015 on the performance of micro-firms as a natural experiment, using Spanish non-micro firms and Portuguese firms as control groups. We find that the reform substantially increased both the probability of filing for bankruptcy by Spanish micro-firms in financial distress (arguably to seek discharge of part of the firm owner’s debt) and the probability of these firms exiting the market, as the fresh start policy requires the liquidation of the debtor’s non-exempt assets. In addition, the reform increased investment and turnover in micro-firms but had no effect on their employment. Finally, the reform also promoted the creation of new micro-firms, especially those involved in innovation activities and in sectors with high productivity.
Keywords: personal bankruptcy, fresh start, micro-firms, entrepreneurship
JEL Classification: K35, G33, L25, L26
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation