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Hogendoorn B., Groot W., Maassen van den Brink, H.: Human capital and entrepreneurial performance in industrialized countries: A systematic review of (quasi-)experimental studies


Many studies on the relationship between human capital and entrepreneurial performance either rely on correlations or are confined to developing countries. This paper is the first to review experimental and quasi-experimental studies from industrialized countries. We identify N = 21 papers published before 2017 about the effects of human capital interventions on entrepreneurial performance. Interventions include formal education, business training and entrepreneurship education. Performance outcomes include firm profits, firm employment and entrepreneurial earnings. The main findings are that the interventions have weak effects, which are often statistically insignificant. Formal education appears to be the only intervention to have a positive effect on firm profits and entrepreneurial earnings. Evidence is inconclusive regarding effect heterogeneity and effect duration. We conclude that correlational studies tend to overestimate the effects of human capital interventions. Moreover, our calculations suggest that the interventions are associated with substantial deadweight loss.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship  Returns to education  Firm performance  Causal inference 

Systematic review

JEL classi cation: I26  J24  L25  L26  M13  M53

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