Economics

Why America Stopped Being a Startup Nation

Conservatives jump to conclusions when they blame regulations.

Maybe digitizing it would help.

Photographer: Ulrich Baumgarten/Getty Images

For years now, economists have been warning that something seems very wrong with the fundamentals of the U.S. economy. We think of the U.S. as a dynamic country of entrepreneurs and independent business owners, but this is a lot less true than it used to be. As economists Ryan Decker (now of the Federal Reserve Board) and others have demonstrated, the rate at which new businesses start up in the U.S. has been in decline. Up until 2000, most of that decline was the result of big chain stores and restaurants pushing out local mom-and-pop businesses. But since the turn of the century, high-growth companies are also forming at lower rates. The Silicon Valley startup boom we read about in the news is the exception, not the rule.

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