October 2013

Who Works for Startups? The Relation between Firm Age, Employee Age, and Growth

Paige Ouimet and Rebecca Zarutskie


Young firms disproportionately employ young workers, controlling for firm size, industry, geography and time. The same positive correlation between young firms and young employees holds when we look just at new hires. On average, young employees in young firms earn higher wages than young employees in older firms. Further, young employees disproportionately join young firms with greater innovation potential and that exhibit higher growth, conditional on survival. These facts are consistent with the argument that the skills, risk tolerance, and career dynamics of young workers are contributing factors to their disproportionate share of employment in young firms. Finally, we show that an increase in the regional supply of young workers is positively related to the rate of new firm creation, especially in high tech industries, suggesting a causal link between the supply of young workers and new firm creation.

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Keywords: Entrepreneurship, human capital, career choice, venture capital

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Last Update: June 26, 2020