this paper is about the links between entrepreneurship determinants, entrepreneurship rate and entrepreneurship consequences. a model relating demographic, cultural, economical and institutional antecedents to entrepreneurship rate and to economic and social regional performance is proposed and tested using rio grande do sul municipal data. the results support the view that institutional, economical and demographic variables shape entrepreneurship rate. moreover support was also found for the fact that the entrepreneurship rate impacts the development of localities. unlike other researches our results also suggest that the entrepreneurship rate mediates the effects of other variables on the regional economic and social performance. this result has important implications for establishing regional development policies because if the interest is to enhance economic and social development the best practice is to improve the entrepreneurship antecedents rather than only stimulate more people to start new business.