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



My papers have been focused on topics around entrepreneurship. From a micro perspective, my research adds to the still sparse literature on the entrepreneurial decisions within a household framework; while from a macro perspective, my research investigates the recent declining entrepreneurship in the United States during the past two decades.

I start in Chapter 2 with the empirical finding that married people are more likely to be entrepreneurs than their single counterparts. I identify a causal effect that marriage increases entrepreneurship by employing a recent marriage policy reform in Australia as a natural experiment. The 2008 federal policy reform requires de facto couples (similar to the common-law marriage) and married couples to be treated equally regarding divorce or separation procedure in all states. I focus on two major states in Australia: Queensland which already had a similar law in place, and New South Wales which had no such legislation prior to the 2008 reform. Using the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia survey data for the years 2001 to 2015, I demonstrate that the policy reform has a positive effect on marriage through a difference-in-difference approach. By using the policy reform as an instrument variable, I show that marriage can increase the likelihood to be an entrepreneur by 7.96% for men and 1.19% for women. However, this causal effect is not consistent with the hypothesis from the family-insurance incentive, since I find a high rate of spouses both being entrepreneurs. Instead, I show that this causal effect is driven by the commitment to a marital relationship, which facilitates household specialization and joint entrepreneurship.

Chapter 3 investigates the downward trend of U.S. self-employment rate as observed in the last two decades. Using data from the Current Population Survey Merged Outgoing Rotation Groups (CPS-ORG), I have decomposed this decline by gender, business incorporation status, industry, and entry/exit employment dynamic. Both the downward trend of non-incorporated businesses and the increasing exiting-rate of self-employment are recognized to be the primary causes of this decline. I have proposed an approach with Probit models to evaluate the net effect of intertwined determinants and demonstrated that many variables such as age and education have affected self-employment tendency differently for men and women. Moreover, through Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition, I have shown that the changing demographic factors could have contributed to an increase in self-employment by 11.9\%; while changes in the effects of these determinants have resulted in a counterfactual decline in self-employment by 30.2%. Furthermore, I have analyzed the effect of real wage on self-employment entry as well as the change in this effect over time. Overall, this research provides insights into the future of entrepreneurship and informs economic policymaking.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Barton Hamilton

Committee Members

Robert Pollak, Carl Sanders, Sanghmitra Gautam, Bernardo Silveira,


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