COVID-19, Small Business Owners, and Racial Inequality by Robert Fairlie

The widespread closing of businesses in the United States and around the world due to the coronavirus has been unprecedented. Stores, factories, and many other businesses have closed as a result of policy mandates, downward demand shifts, health concerns, or other factors. Although many have reopened since social distancing restrictions were relaxed, the revenues lost from the closures, the limited scale of current reopenings, and the potential for further closures in the future may lead to a wave of permanent small business closures with disproportionate impacts by race, gender, and nativity.

In several recent papers, I examine the impacts of COVID-19 on small business owners, using timely microdata from the Current Population Survey (CPS) and administrative data from the Small Business Administration. These new papers build on my longstanding research agenda on entrepreneurship, racial inequality, and small business policy. This summary reviews selected papers from both recent and earlier work.

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