IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Experimental Evidence on Returns to Capital and Access to Finance in Mexico


  • David McKenzie
  • Christopher Woodruff


A strong theoretical argument for focusing on access to finance is that financial market imperfections can result in large inefficiencies, as firms with productive investment opportunities underinvest. Lack of access to finance is a frequent complaint of microenterprises, which account for a large share of employment in developing countries. However, assessing the extent to which a lack of capital affects their business profits is complicated by the fact that business investment is likely to be correlated with a host of unmeasured characteristics of the owner and firm, such as entrepreneurial ability and demand shocks. In a randomized experiment that gave cash and in-kind grants to small retail firms, providing an exogenous shock to capital, the shock generated large increases in profits, with the effects concentrated among firms that were more financially constrained. The estimated return to capital was at least 20--33 percent a month--three to five times higher than market interest rates. Copyright The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development / the world bank . All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Experimental Evidence on Returns to Capital and Access to Finance in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(3), pages 457-482, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:22:y:2008:i:3:p:457-482

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Chang, Roberto & Kaltani, Linda & Loayza, Norman V., 2009. "Openness can be good for growth: The role of policy complementarities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 33-49, September.
    2. Caballero, Ricardo J. & Cowan, Kevin N. & Engel, Eduardo M.R.A. & Micco, Alejandro, 2013. "Effective labor regulation and microeconomic flexibility," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 92-104.
    3. Easterly, William & Kremer, Michael & Pritchett, Lant & Summers, Lawrence H., 1993. "Good policy or good luck?: Country growth performance and temporary shocks," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 459-483, December.
    4. Juan C. Botero & Simeon Djankov & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "The Regulation of Labor," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(4), pages 1339-1382.
    5. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James & Thaicharoen, Yunyong, 2003. "Institutional causes, macroeconomic symptoms: volatility, crises and growth," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 49-123, January.
    6. Ahmed, Shaghil, 2003. "Sources of economic fluctuations in Latin America and implications for choice of exchange rate regimes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 181-202, October.
    7. Uribe, Martin & Yue, Vivian Z., 2006. "Country spreads and emerging countries: Who drives whom?," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 6-36, June.
    8. Sebastian Edwards, 2001. "Capital Mobility and Economic Performance: Are Emerging Economies Different?," NBER Working Papers 8076, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1998. "The Macroeconomics of Specificity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(4), pages 724-767, August.
    10. Ariél Pakes & Zvi Griliches, 1984. "Estimating Distributed Lags in Short Panels with an Application to the Specification of Depreciation Patterns and Capital Stock Constructs," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 51(2), pages 243-262.
    11. repec:rus:hseeco:72137 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Ricardo J. Caballero & Mohamad L. Hammour, 1996. "On the Timing and Efficiency of Creative Destruction," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(3), pages 805-852.
    13. Menzie D. Chinn & Hiro Ito, 2002. "Capital Account Liberalization, Institutions and Financial Development: Cross Country Evidence," NBER Working Papers 8967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Im, Kyung So & Pesaran, M. Hashem & Shin, Yongcheol, 2003. "Testing for unit roots in heterogeneous panels," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 115(1), pages 53-74, July.
    15. Cristina Arellano & Enrique G. Mendoza, 2002. "Credit Frictions and 'Sudden Stops' in Small Open Economies: An Equilibrium Business Cycle Framework for Emerging Markets Crises," NBER Working Papers 8880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Bernanke, Ben & Gertler, Mark, 1989. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(1), pages 14-31, March.
    17. Pedroni, Peter, 1999. " Critical Values for Cointegration Tests in Heterogeneous Panels with Multiple Regressors," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(0), pages 653-670, Special I.
    18. Broda, Christian, 2004. "Terms of trade and exchange rate regimes in developing countries," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 31-58, May.
    19. Caballero, Ricardo J & Hammour, Mohamad L, 1994. "The Cleansing Effect of Recessions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1350-1368, December.
    20. Alexander W. Hoffmaister & Jorge E. Roldós & Peter Wickham, 1998. "Macroeconomic Fluctuations in Sub-Saharan Africa," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 45(1), pages 132-160, March.
    21. Raddatz, Claudio, 2007. "Are external shocks responsible for the instability of output in low-income countries?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 155-187, September.
    22. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Levine, Ross, 1999. "A new database on financial development and structure," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2146, The World Bank.
    23. Collier, Paul & Dehn, Jan, 2001. "Aid, shocks, and growth," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2688, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:22:y:2008:i:3:p:457-482. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.