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Can optimism solve the entrepreneurial earnings puzzle?

Michele Dell'Era, Luca David Opromolla and Luís Santos‐Pinto

Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2023, vol. 125, issue 1, 139-169

Abstract: In this paper, we apply a general equilibrium occupational choice model to the study of the impact of optimism on the earnings of entrepreneurs and workers. We extend the work of Lucas (1978 Bell Journal of Economics 9, 508–523) by assuming a fraction of individuals are optimistic about their ability as entrepreneurs. The model shows that optimism leads to a misallocation of talent and inputs, which raises input prices and lowers output. The model is calibrated to match salient features of the UK economy and the British Household Panel Survey. The calibration shows that optimism can account for more than half of the size of the entrepreneurial earnings puzzle in the UK.

Date: 2023
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