Date of Award

Winter 12-15-2016

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



My dissertation is focused on the relationship between financial and business decisions of households. The first essay examines how founders of new businesses changed their portfolios in the aftermath of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Using the Survey of Consumer Finances 2007-2009 panel data, I find evidence that those who became entrepreneurs (entrants) reduced financial portfolio risk compared to those who remained paid employees. I identify a movement away from stockholdings as a result of entry, and provide support for a response to the background risk arising from privately held businesses. Business ownership was also associated with changes in the real estate holdings of entrants. These findings highlight the link between private and public equity markets through entrepreneurs' portfolio choices and introduce a connection between housing and entrepreneurship through changes in home ownership. The second essay studies the trends in angel investment in a representative sample of the U.S. economy and explores the characteristics of these individual private investors. Our results suggest that angel investment is highly concentrated among the wealthiest households, and wealth plays an important role in participation, even among the top 1% of wealth distribution. These wealthy households, who own the majority of the economy's angel equity, increased their participation in the angel investing market during the 1998-2010 period, unaffected by the recessions and financial crisis. In the representative sample, self-employment plays an important role in predicting the incidence of being an angel investor and angel equity share, but the relationship is not as robust for the subsample of the top 1%. Self-reported willingness to take financial risk is generally associated with a higher likelihood of being an angel investor and a larger share of angel equity in different specifications, especially for the 1%. The angels are likely to be more financially disciplined as measured by their credit card balances and how much effort they put into choosing their investments. Angels' affluence, their higher financial discipline and more risk tolerance, together with the relatively low shares of angel equity in the portfolios of most angel investors might suggest calculated risk taking on the part of an average angel investor.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Barton H. Hamilton

Committee Members

Robert A. Pollak, Carl Sanders, Bruce C. Petersen, Ian Fillmore


Permanent URL: