Francine Lafontaine, Marek Zapletal, and Xu Zhang

This paper uses Census microdata to examine how starting a business as a franchise rather than an independent business affects its survival and growth prospects. We assess factors that influence the decision to become a franchisee and use various empirical approaches to correct for selection bias in our performance analyses. We find that franchised businesses on average exhibit higher survival rates than independent businesses; but importantly, the difference is small compared with claims in the trade press. The effect is also short lived: conditional on surviving a year or two, we no longer find survival (or growth) differences. We then explore two potential sources for this small survival advantage, namely franchisors’ screening process and the benefits arising from the brand and business know‐how provided by franchisors. We find evidence that both of the sources contribute to the franchising advantage.