Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2018

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation studied detailed micro-level evidence to understand macroeconomic outcomes over time and across economies. The three chapters that comprise this dissertation study the following: 1) the role of employer size in the entry, size and growth of firms, 2) the interaction of income inequality and entrepreneurial entry, and 3) the effects of financial market liberalization on income inequality.

Identifying the determinants of firm entry, size and growth is important for understanding aggregate outcomes within and across economies. The first chapter, “Employer Size and Spinout Dynamics” contributes to this understanding by studying the role of employer size on the formation and success of spinouts i.e. firms founded by former employees of existing firms. Using individual and firm level data from Mexico, I document a negative (positive) relationship between spinout entry (growth) and employer size. In other words, smaller firms are more likely to generate spinouts than larger firms and these spinouts grow slower than those from larger firms. Although a qualitatively similar relationship is observed in data from the U.S., there are large quantitative differences in the levels of spinout formation. To understand the impact of these differences on aggregate outcomes, I build an empirically consistent model of occupational choice and firm dynamics in which workers can learn from and adopt the productivity of their employers to form spinouts. In this framework, differences in the rate of spinout formation between U.S. and Mexico are driven by differences in the efficiency with which employees learn from their employers. I interpret this efficiency as capturing a form of managerial quality. Calibrating the model to match spinout entry across the two countries accounts for a significant share of the observed differences in output per worker, entrepreneurship and firm growth. These findings highlight the relevance of spinouts for aggregate outcomes, as well as the potential for management practices to not only impact incumbent firms but also future entrants.

In the second chapter of this dissertation, “Skill Biased Entrepreneurial Decline”, my co-author and I study the forces behind the decline of firm startups in the U.S. since the late 70's. We document that this decline in entry into entrepreneurship is more pronounced for skilled individuals and posit that it is due, in part, to the changing income structures of workers and entrepreneurs. We show this to be the case by introducing a rising worker skill premium in a model of occupational choice. Our findings emphasize the importance of rising income inequality in understanding the skill biased decline in entrepreneurship and the broader decline in business dynamism in the U.S.

In the third chapter, "Financial Market Liberalization and Inequality", my co-authors and I investigate the role of bank branching deregulation on inequality at the top and bottom end of the income distribution in the U.S. By exploiting differences in the timing of deregulation across states , we establish a causal link between financial market liberalization and the increase (decrease) of top (bottom) income inequality. We argue that deregulation impacts inequality through direct effects on earnings in the financial sector, as well as indirect spill overs from this sector to the rest of the economy. Empirical evidence supporting these direct and indirect channels is provided. These findings contribute to understanding current trends and predicting future trends in inequality.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Yongseok Shin

Committee Members

Alexander Monge-Naranjo, Ping Wang, Balasubramanian Ravikumar, Francisco Buera,


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