Private Equity: Accomplishments and Challenges

Wednesday July 8, 2020


Since the 1980s, there has been an ongoing discussion about the role of private equity (PE) in the economy. As investors have flocked to the asset class, voices critical of the negative social impact of PE have grown louder. In this article, we examine what is known from the academic literature about the effects of private equity on corporate productivity, the returns for investors, and possible broader economic and social consequences. We catalogue what we believe to be strong evidence of the overall benefits of PE-backed companies and investors in private equity, as well as spillovers in the form of broader gains in economic productivity. We also describe apparent instances of PE shortcomings in some specific industries where negative social impacts can be measured in some way.


Greg Brown, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and Institute for Private Capital
Bob Harris, University of Virginia
Steve Kaplan, University of Chicago
Tim Jenkinson, University of Oxford
David Robinson, Duke University