Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment
AbstractSmall and informal firms account for a large share of employment in developing countries. The rapid expansion of microfinance services is based on the belief that these firms have productive investment opportunities and can enjoy high returns to capital if given the opportunity. However, measuring the return to capital is complicated by unobserved factors such as entrepreneurial ability and demand shocks, which are likely to be correlated with capital stock. The authors use a randomized experiment to overcome this problem and to measure the return to capital for the average microenterprise in their sample, regardless of whether they apply for credit. They accomplish this by providing cash and equipment grants to small firms in Sri Lanka, and measuring the increase in profits arising from this exogenous (positive) shock to capital stock. After controlling for possible spillover effects, the authors find the average real return to capital to be 5.7 percent a month, substantially higher than the market interest rate. They then examine the heterogeneity of treatment effects to explore whether missing credit markets or missing insurance markets are the most likely cause of the high returns. Returns are found to vary with entrepreneurial ability and with measures of other sources of cash within the household, but not to vary with risk aversion or uncertainty.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4230.
Date of creation: 01 May 2007
Date of revision:
Economic Theory&Research; Investment and Investment Climate; Microfinance; Small Scale Enterprise; Economic Growth;
Other versions of this item:
- Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
- 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).
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- O17 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2007-05-19 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEV-2007-05-19 (Development)
- NEP-ENT-2007-05-19 (Entrepreneurship)
- NEP-EXP-2007-05-19 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-MFD-2007-05-19 (Microfinance)
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Blog mentionsAs found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
- The new must-read paper for field experimenters
by Chris Blattman in Chris Blattman on 2010-12-21 02:07:32
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