We study the entry and exit dynamics of nonprofit public charities using 1989-2003 tax return data. The observed patterns can be understood using a dynamic industry model based on Jovanovic (1982) that incorporates profit-deviation and a non-redistribution constraint. Both features generate a high exit threshold which implies high net entry rates and low exit rates. The data reveal that nonprofit gross entry rates are lower than those of for-profits in services, while extremely low exit rates (across both sectors and time) result in net entry rates nearly 3 times larger than that of for-profit firms. We find that the behavior of new public charities is remarkably similar to that found in studies of private firms (e.g. new firms begin smaller than the industry mean, but grow faster). However, exit patterns diverge sharply. Besides relatively low exit rates, the survival rate of new nonprofit firms greatly exceeds those found in studies on services and manufacturing. In addition we find that the hazard rate of exit declines with age and size, and with size conditional on age.
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