Disrupted education, underdogs and the propensity for entrepreneurship: evidence from China's sent-down youth program

Mathew Hayward, Zhiming Cheng, Ben Zhe Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Societal crises, such as those presented by COVID-19, disrupt the education experiences of youth and deprive them of human capital. Studies show that more human capital gained through education increases the propensity for new business formation. We suggest and find consistent results for the complementary perspective that disrupted education increases such inclination, contributing to theory on human capital. We deploy Mao Zedong's decision to remove 17 million Chinese use from their schools to the countryside as a natural experiment to test hypotheses. Results from difference-in-differences estimation procedures show that disrupted education increases the propensity for entrepreneurship by over seven per cent, which is stronger for those with parents from elite backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Business Research
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • Disrupted education
  • Human capital
  • New business formation
  • Underdogs

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