Rachel Marie Brooks Atkins

The New School

Rachel Marie Brooks Atkins is a doctoral candidate at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy. She is also a graduate of West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and has earned Master Degrees from the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government and New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is currently interested in researching racial disparities in entrepreneurship rates and outcomes.

Dissertation Title: Black Entrepreneurship and the Business Cycle: firm entry and outcomes during economic downturn

Dissertation Abstract: Her dissertation research assesses the ways in which economic recession impacts decisions to enter entrepreneurship and effects outcomes for African American entrepreneurs as compared with other groups. Specifically, she examines the dynamic relationship between tight labor markets which can push workers into entrepreneurship in contrast with tight credit markets which can prevent potential entrepreneurs from acquire necessary financial capital to start their businesses. She further investigates whether education and experience help entrepreneurs adapt during economic shocks and ultimately moderate the negative effects of recession on the probability of starting a business and on measures of business success for owners of existing firms. Despite empirical evidence showing that negative labor market conditions push individuals into entrepreneurship at higher rates during recession, she predicts that financial resource constraints made it more difficult for blacks than other groups to enter entrepreneurship during economic downturns. She also predicts that existing black business owners may have greater difficulty weathering negative economic shocks due in large part to financial resource constraints stemming from wealth losses and credit market contractions that impacted blacks disproportionately.

Using data form the Survey of Consumer Finances she exploits detailed information on respondent work history, personal finances, education, access to capital, and business outcomes in order to estimate whether and why recession may impact entrepreneurs differently by race. First she uses the panel data created from follow-up interviews of the 2007 survey respondents to look descriptively at differences in the way blacks and other groups responded to recession given losses in employment, earnings, and wealth. She then executes logistic and OLS regression analysis on pooled cross sectional data from 1995 to 2016 survey years to evaluate effects of the last two economic recessions on entrepreneur outcomes. Specifically, she measures the impact of wealth and employment on the probability of starting a business during recession and recovery by race. She also assesses the relationship between entrepreneur experience and access to capital on business outcomes such as revenue, profit, and firm value during recession and recover by race.