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Is inequality bad for business : a non-linear microeconomic model of wealth effects on self-employment

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  • Mesnard, Alice
  • Ravallion, Martin

Abstract

It is widely assumed that pervasive credit market failures mean that a person's current wealth is critical to whether or not that person can take up opportunities to start a new business. The authors show that inequality in wealth can be either good or bad for the level of entrepreneurship in an economy, depending on how diminishing returns to capital interact with borrowing constraints at the microeconomic level. They use nonparametric regression methods to study wealth effects on business start-ups among migrants returning to their home country, Tunisia. They include controls for heterogeneity, with specification tests for the nonseparable effects with wealth and for selection bias. There is no evidence of increasing returns at low wealth. The aggregate number of business start-ups is an increasing function of aggregate wealth but a decreasing function of wealth inequality. In other words, at any given mean, the higher the initial inequality of wealth, the lower the rate of new business start-ups, through the existence of diminshing returns to capital given liquidity constraints. In this sense, the results suggest that inequality is bad for business--but the size of this effect is small. The findings do not constitute a case for public redistribution of wealth as a means of stimulating business activity. There should probably be more research on interventions to reduce liquidity constraints.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2527.

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Date of creation: 31 Jan 2001
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2527

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Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Economic Conditions and Volatility; Banks&Banking Reform; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Environmental Economics&Policies;

References

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  1. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Duflo, Esther, 2003. " Inequality and Growth: What Can the Data Say?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 267-99, September.
  2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Roland Benabou, 1996. "Inequality and Growth," NBER Working Papers 5658, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Robinson, Peter M, 1988. "Root- N-Consistent Semiparametric Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 931-54, July.
  7. Evans, David S & Leighton, Linda S, 1989. "Some Empirical Aspects of Entrepreneurship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 519-35, June.
  8. Douglas Holtz-Eakin & David Joulfaian & Harvey S. Rosen, 1993. "Entrepreneurial Decisions and Liquidity Constraints," NBER Working Papers 4526, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Aghion, Philippe & Caroli, Eve & Garcia-Penalosa, Cecilia, 1999. "Inequality and economic growth: the perspective of the new growth theories," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 9908, CEPREMAP.
  10. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 1997. "A Theory of Trickle-Down Growth and Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 151-72, April.
  11. Adonis Yatchew, 1998. "Nonparametric Regression Techniques in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 669-721, June.
  12. Ravallion, Martin, 1998. "Does aggregation hide the harmful effects of inequality on growth?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 73-77, October.
  13. Atkinson, A.B. & Brandolini, A., 2000. "Promise and Pitfalls in the Use of 'Secondary' Data -Sets: Income Inequality in OECD Countries," Papers 379, Banca Italia - Servizio di Studi.
  14. Magnac, Thierry & Robin, Jean-Marc, 1996. "Occupational choice and liquidity constraints," Ricerche Economiche, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 105-133, June.
  15. David Blanchflower & Andrew J. Oswald, 1990. "What Makes an Entrepreneur? Evidence on Inheritance and Capital Constraints," NBER Working Papers 3252, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Piketty, Thomas, 1997. "The Dynamics of the Wealth Distribution and the Interest Rate with Credit Rationing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 64(2), pages 173-89, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Christophe Muller & Christophe Nordman, 2004. "Which Human Capital Matters for Rich and Poor’s Wages?Evidence from Matched Worker-Firm Data from Tunisia," Working Papers DT/2004/09, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation), revised Oct 2004.
  2. João Pedro W. de Azevedo, 2004. "Entrepreneurship And Liquidity Constraints In Deprived Areas: Evidence From The Slums Of Rio De Janeiro," Anais do XXXII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 32th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 135, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
  3. Michael Lokshin, 2006. "Difference-based semiparametric estimation of partial linear regression models," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(3), pages 377-383, September.

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