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Who Are the Microenterprise Owners? Evidence from Sri Lanka on Tokman v. de Soto

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Author Info

  • de Mel, Suresh

    ()
    (University of Peradeniya)

  • McKenzie, David

    ()
    (World Bank)

  • Woodruff, Christopher

    ()
    (University of Warwick)

Abstract

Is the vast army of the self-employed in low income countries a source of employment generation? We use data from surveys in Sri Lanka to compare the characteristics of own account workers (non-employers) with wage workers and with owners of larger firms. We use a rich set of measures of background, ability, and attitudes, including lottery experiments measuring risk attitudes. Consistent with the ILO’s views of the self employed (represented by Tokman), we find that 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the own account workers have characteristics which are more like wage workers than larger firm owners. This suggests the majority of the own account workers are unlikely to become employers. Using a two and a half year panel of enterprises, we show that the minority of own account workers who are more like larger firm owners are more likely to expand by adding paid employees. The analysis suggests that finance is not the sole constraint to growth of microenterprises, and provides an explanation for the low rates of growth of enterprises supported by microlending.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3511.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: May 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: Josh Lerner and Antoinette Schoar (eds.) International Differences in Entrepreneurship, NBER, 2010
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3511

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Keywords: entrepreneurship; self-employment; De Soto;

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References

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  1. Victor E. Tokman, 2007. "Modernizing the informal sector," Working Papers 42, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
  2. Blanchflower, David G & Oswald, Andrew J, 1998. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 26-60, January.
  3. Annamarie Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," Working Papers wp108, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  4. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William F., 2007. "Comparative Analysis of Labor Market Dynamics Using Markov Processes: An Application to Informality," IZA Discussion Papers 3038, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Bruhn, Miriam, 2008. "License to sell : the effect of business registration reform on entrepreneurial activity in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4538, The World Bank.
  6. Simeon Djankov & Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, . "The Regulation of Entry," Working Paper 19462, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  7. Landier, Augustin & Thesmar, David, 2003. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3971, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Evans, David S & Jovanovic, Boyan, 1989. "An Estimated Model of Entrepreneurial Choice under Liquidity Constraints," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(4), pages 808-27, August.
  9. Thomas Dunn & Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 2000. "Financial Capital, Human Capital, and the Transition to Self-Employment:Evidence from Intergenerational Links," NBER Working Papers 5622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Maloney, William F, 1999. "Does Informality Imply Segmentation in Urban Labor Markets? Evidence from Sectoral Transitions in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 13(2), pages 275-302, May.
  11. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2934, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ron S. Jarmin & C. J. Krizan & Javier Miranda & Alfred Nucci & Kristin Sandusky, 2007. "Measuring the Dynamics of Young and Small Businesses: Integrating the Employer and Nonemployer Universes," NBER Working Papers 13226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Bosch, Mariano & Goni, Edwin & Maloney, William, 2007. "The determinants of rising informality in Brazil : Evidence from gross worker flows," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4375, The World Bank.
  14. Simeon Djankov & Edward Miguel & Yingyi Qian & Gérard Roland & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2005. "Who are Russia's Entrepreneurs?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 587-597, 04/05.
  15. Fields, Gary S., 1975. "Rural-urban migration, urban unemployment and underemployment, and job-search activity in LDCs," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 165-187, June.
  16. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  17. Erik Hurst & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 319-347, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Silvia Ardagna & Annamaria Lusardi, 2010. "Explaining International Differences in Entrepreneurship: The Role of Individual Characteristics and Regulatory Constraints," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 17-62 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bruhn, Miriam, 2013. "A tale of two species: Revisiting the effect of registration reform on informal business owners in Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 275-283.
  3. Ximena Peña Parga & Camilo Mondragón-Vélez, 2008. "Business Ownership and Self-Employment in Developing Economies: The Colombian Case," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 004672, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  4. Bennett, John & Rablen, Matthew D., 2012. "Self-Employment, Wage Employment and Informality in a Developing Economy," IZA Discussion Papers 6406, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Lixin Colin Xu, 2011. "The Effects of Business Environments on Development: Surveying New Firm-level Evidence," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 26(2), pages 310-340, August.
  6. Hasan, Rana & Jandoc, Karl Robert L., 2009. "Quality of Jobs in the Philippines: Comparing Self-Employment with Wage Employment," ADB Economics Working Paper Series 148, Asian Development Bank.
  7. Antoinette Schoar, 2010. "The Divide between Subsistence and Transformational Entrepreneurship," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 10, pages 57-81 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Khamis, Melanie, 2009. "A Note on Informality in the Labor Market," IZA Discussion Papers 4676, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Akay, Alpaslan & Khamis, Melanie, 2011. "The Persistence of Informality: Evidence from Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 6163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice?," NBER Working Papers 14084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Silvia Ardagna & Annamaria Lusardi, 2009. "Where does regulation hurt? Evidence from new businesses across countries," NBER Working Papers 14747, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. David McKenzie, 2010. "Impact Assessments in Finance and Private Sector Development: What Have We Learned and What Should We Learn?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 25(2), pages 209-233, August.
  13. Dang, Hai-Anh & Lanjouw, Peter & Luoto, Jill & McKenzie, David, 2014. "Using repeated cross-sections to explore movements into and out of poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 112-128.
  14. Silvia Ardagna & Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Explaining International Differences in Entrepreneurship: The Role of Individual Characteristics and Regulatory Constraints," NBER Working Papers 14012, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Innovative Firms or Innovative Owners? Determinants of Innovation in Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises," IZA Discussion Papers 3962, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Drugov, Mikhail & Macchiavello, Rocco, 2008. "Learning and Microlending," CEPR Discussion Papers 7011, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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