Staff Report 322

Entrepreneurship, Frictions, and Wealth

Mariacristina De Nardi
Marco Cagetti

Published September 1, 2003

Although the role of financial constraints on entrepreneurial choices has received considerable attention, the effects of these constraints on aggregate capital accumulation and wealth inequality are less known. Entrepreneurship is an important determinant of capital accumulation and wealth concentration and, conversely, the distribution of wealth affects entrepreneurial choices in the presence of borrowing constraints. We construct a model that matches wealth inequality very well, for both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, and find that more restrictive borrowing constraints generate less wealth concentration, but also reduce average firm size, aggregate capital, and the fraction of entrepreneurs. We also find that voluntary bequests are an important channel that allows some high-ability workers to establish or enlarge an entrepreneurial activity: with accidental bequests only, there would be fewer large firms, fewer entrepreneurs, and less aggregate capital, but also less wealth concentration.

Published In: Journal of Political Economy (Vol. 114, No. 5, October 2006, pp. 835-870)

Download Paper (pdf)