Banking Deregulations, Financing Constraints and Firm Entry Size
Executive Summary — How do financing constraints on new start-ups affect the initial size of these new firms? Since bank debt comprises the majority of U.S. firm borrowings, new ventures are especially sensitive to local bank conditions due to their limited options for external finance. Liberalization in the banking sector can thus have important effects on entrepreneurship in product markets. As HBS professors William Kerr and Ramana Nanda explain, the 1970s through the mid-1990s was a period of significant liberalization in the ability of banks to establish branches and to expand across state borders, either through new branches or through acquisitions. Using a database of annual employment data for every U.S. establishment from 1976 onward, Kerr and Nanda examine how U.S. branch banking deregulations impacted the entry size of new start-ups in the non-financial sector. This paper is closely related to their prior work examining how the deregulations impacted the rates of startup entry and exit in the non-financial sector. Key concepts include:
- The average entry size for start-ups did not change following the bank deregulations. However, this result masks the differences in entry size among startups that failed within three years of entry and those that survived for four years or more.
- Start-ups that survived for four years or longer entered at 2% larger sizes after the deregulations compared to earlier periods. Entrants that failed within three years did not enter at larger firm sizes.
- It is a challenge to measure accurately changes in the initial size of new firms even using micro-data such as that from the U.S. Census Bureau. Carefully characterizing effects of financing constraints on the initial size of new firms theoretically and empirically is an important research topic for entrepreneurial finance.
We examine the effect of US branch banking deregulations on the entry size of new firms using micro-data from the US Census Bureau. We find that the average entry size for startups did not change following the deregulations. However, this result masks the differences in entry size among startups that failed within three years of entry and those that survived for four years or more. Long-term entrants started at a 2% larger size relative to their size in their fourth year, while churning entrants were no larger. Our results suggest that the banking deregulations had two distinct effects on the product market. On the one hand, they allowed entrants to compete more effectively against incumbents by reducing financing constraints and facilitating their entry at larger firm sizes. On the other hand, the process of lowering financing constraints democratized entry and created a lot more churning among entrants, particularly at the low end of the size distribution. Our results highlight that this large-scale entry at the extensive margin can obscure the more subtle intensive margin effects of changes in financing constraints.