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Who are the microenterprise owners ? Evidence from Sri Lanka on Tokman v. de Soto

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  • de Mel, Suresh
  • McKenzie, David
  • Woodruff, Christopher

Abstract

Is the vast army of the self-employed in low income countries a source of employment generation? This paper uses 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. The authors use a rich set of measures of background, ability, and attitudes, including lottery experiments measuring risk attitudes. Consistent with the International Labor Organization's views of the self employed (represented by Tokman), the analysis finds that two-thirds to three-quarters 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, the authors 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 results suggest 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 The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4635.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4635

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Keywords: Labor Markets; Tertiary Education; Work&Working Conditions; Microfinance;

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References

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  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Steven J. Davis & John Haltiwanger & Ronald S. Jarmin & C.J. Krizan & Javier Miranda & Alfred Nucci & Kristin Sandusky, 2009. "Measuring the Dynamics of Young and Small Businesses: Integrating the Employer and Nonemployer Universes," NBER Chapters, in: Producer Dynamics: New Evidence from Micro Data, pages 329-366 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," DNB Working Papers 078, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  6. Landier, Augustin & Thesmar, David, 2003. "Financial Contracting with Optimistic Entrepreneurs: Theory and Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 3971, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Jovanovic, Boyan, 1982. "Selection and the Evolution of Industry," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(3), pages 649-70, May.
  8. 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.
  9. Djankov, Simeon & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei & Lopez de Silanes, Florencio, 2001. "The regulation of entry," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2661, The World Bank.
  10. Bosch, Mariano & Maloney, William, 2007. "Comparative analysis of labor market dynamics using markov processes : an application to informality," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4429, The World Bank.
  11. 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.
  12. Blanchflower, D.G. & Oswald, A., 1991. "What Makes an Entrepreneur?," Economics Series Working Papers 99125, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  13. 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.
  14. Victor E. Tokman, 2007. "Modernizing the informal sector," Working Papers 42, United Nations, Department of Economics and Social Affairs.
  15. Thomas Dunn & Douglas Holtz-Eakin, 1996. "Financial Capital, Human Capital, and the Transition to Self-Employment:Evidence from Intergenerational Links," NBER Working Papers 5622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
  17. 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.
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Cited by:
  1. 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.
  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. John Bennett & Matthew Rablen, 2012. "Self-Employment, Wage Employment and Informality in a Developing Economy," CEDI Discussion Paper Series 12-02, Centre for Economic Development and Institutions(CEDI), Brunel University.
  4. Melanie Khamis, 2012. "A Note On Informality In The Labour Market," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(7), pages 894-908, October.
  5. Akay, Alpaslan & Khamis, Melanie, 2011. "The Persistence of Informality: Evidence from Panel Data," IZA Discussion Papers 6163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. 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.
  7. Camilo Mondragón-Vélez & Ximena Peña, 2010. "Business Ownership and Self-Employment in Developing Economies: The Colombian Case," NBER Chapters, in: International Differences in Entrepreneurship, pages 89-127 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. 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.
  9. Annamaria Lusardi, 2008. "Financial Literacy: An Essential Tool for Informed Consumer Choice?," NBER Working Papers 14084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. 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.
  11. Dang, Hai-Anh & Lanjouw, Peter & Luoto, Jill & McKenzie, David, 2011. "Using repeated cross-sections to explore movements in and out of poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5550, The World Bank.
  12. 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).
  13. 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.
  14. McKenzie, David, 2009. "Impact assessments in finance and private sector development : what have we learned and what should we learn ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4944, The World Bank.
  15. 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.
  16. Drugov, Mikhail & Macchiavello, Rocco, 2008. "Learning and Microlending," CEPR Discussion Papers 7011, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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