Getting Schooled: The Role of Universities in Attracting Immigrant Entrepreneurs
50 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021 Last revised: 5 May 2022
Date Written: May 2, 2021
We study immigrant founders of venture-capital backed firms using a new and detailed dataset that we assemble on the backgrounds of founders. Immigrant founders have been critical to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, accounting for roughly 20% of all venture capital-backed founders over the past 30 years. We document the channels through which immigrant founders arrive in the United States and how those channels have changed over time. Higher education has served as the primary entry channel for immigrant founders. The share of foreign-educated immigrant founders who initially arrive for work has decreased over time, while the share of immigrant founders with undergraduate education in the United States has increased over time. Immigrant founders are likely to start their companies in the state in which they were educated, leading to potentially large local economic benefits associated with attracting foreign students. The results of this paper have important policy implications for the supply of entrepreneurial talent and efforts to promote entrepreneurial ecosystems.
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, Immigration, Education
JEL Classification: G24, J0, J15, J24, L26
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