Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2015

House Money and Entrepreneurship

by Sari Pekkala Kerr, William R. Kerr and Ramana Nanda

Abstract

We examine the relationship between house prices and entrepreneurship using micro data from the US Census Bureau. Increases in house prices are often thought to drive entrepreneurship through unlocking the collateral channel for bank loans, but this interpretation is challenged by worries regarding omitted variable biases (e.g., rising local demand) or wealth effects (i.e., that people with more valuable homes are more likely to enter entrepreneurship for reasons other than access to collateral). We construct an empirical environment that utilizes very localized price changes, exploits variations in initial home values across residents in the same zip code, and embeds multiple comparisons (e.g., owners vs. renters, homestead exemption laws by state). For the United States during the 2000-2004 period, the link of home prices to the rate of entrepreneurship through home equity channels is modest in economic magnitude. This is despite a focus on a time period that experienced the largest concentration of US home price growth over the last two decades. Even when we do connect home equity to entrepreneurship, part of the effect is linked to an increased demand for entrepreneurship. While housing collateral plays a role in the entry that we observe, it does not seem to be a major barrier to entrepreneurship in our context.

Keywords: house prices; mortgages; collateral channel; entrepreneurship; entry; Demography; Mortgages; Entrepreneurship;

Citation:

Kerr, Sari Pekkala, William R. Kerr, and Ramana Nanda. "House Money and Entrepreneurship." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 15-069, February 2015. (Revised July 2015.)