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Household Matters: Revisiting the Returns to Capital among Female Micro-entrepreneurs

Listed author(s):
  • Arielle Bernhardt
  • Erica Field
  • Rohini Pande
  • Natalia Rigol

Several field experiments fi nd positive returns to grants for male and not female micro-entrepreneurs. But, these analyses largely overlook that male and female micro-entrepreneurs often belong to the same household. Using data from randomized trials in India, Sri Lanka and Ghana, we show that the gender gap in microenterprise performance is not due to a gap in aptitude. Instead, low average returns of female-run enterprises are observed because women's capital is invested into their husbands' enterprises rather than their own. When women are the sole household enterprise operator, capital shocks lead to large increases in profits. Household-level income gains are equivalent regardless of the grant or loan recipient's gender.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 23358.

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Date of creation: Apr 2017
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23358
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  1. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Are Women More Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(3), pages 1-32, July.
  2. Udry, Christopher, 1996. "Gender, Agricultural Production, and the Theory of the Household," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(5), pages 1010-1046, October.
  3. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2014. "Political reservations and women's entrepreneurship in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 138-153.
  4. Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Heike Harmgart & Costas Meghir, 2015. "The Impacts of Microcredit: Evidence from Bosnia and Herzegovina," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 183-203, January.
  5. Benjamin, Dwayne, 1992. "Household Composition, Labor Markets, and Labor Demand: Testing for Separation in Agricultural Household Models," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 287-322, March.
  6. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-298, April.
  7. repec:oup:qjecon:v:129:y:2014:i:2:p:697-752. is not listed on IDEAS
  8. Erica Field & Rohini Pande & John Papp & Natalia Rigol, 2013. "Does the Classic Microfinance Model Discourage Entrepreneurship among the Poor? Experimental Evidence from India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(6), pages 2196-2226, October.
  9. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 423-423.
  10. Lars Ivar Oppedal Berge & Kjetil Bjorvatn & Bertil Tungodden, 2015. "Human and Financial Capital for Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field and Lab Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(4), pages 707-722, April.
  11. Christopher Blattman & Nathan Fiala & Sebastian Martinez, 2014. "Generating Skilled Self-Employment in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(2), pages 697-752.
  12. Kevane, Michael & Wydick, Bruce, 2001. "Microenterprise Lending to Female Entrepreneurs: Sacrificing Economic Growth for Poverty Alleviation?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1225-1236, July.
  13. Johannes Haushofer & Jeremy Shapiro, 2016. "The Short-term Impact of Unconditional Cash Transfers to the Poor: Experimental Evidence from Kenya," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(4), pages 1973-2042.
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