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Barriers to entry and returns to capital in informal activities : evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Grimm, Michael
  • Kruger, Jens
  • Lay, Jann

This paper investigates the patterns of capital entry barriers and capital returns in informal Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE's) using a unique micro data set seven West-African countries. The author's findings support the view of a heterogeneous informal sector that is not primarily host to subsistence activities. While an assessment of initial investment identifies some informal activities with negligible entry barriers, a notable cost of entry is associated to most activities. The authors find very heterogeneous patterns of capital returns in informal MSE's. At very low levels of capital, marginal returns are extremely high- often exceeding 70 percent per month. Above a capital stock of 150 international dollars, marginal returns are found to be relatively low at around 4 to 7 percent monthly. The authors provide some evidence that the high returns at low capital stocks reflect high risks. At the same time, most MSE's appear to be severely capital constrained.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Social Protection Discussion Papers with number 77927.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:hdnspu:77927
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  1. Cunningham, Wendy V & Maloney, William F, 2001. "Heterogeneity among Mexico's Microenterprises: An Application of Factor and Cluster Analysis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 50(1), pages 131-56, October.
  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. Tybout, James R, 1983. "Credit Rationing and Investment Behavior in a Developing Country," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 65(4), pages 598-607, November.
  4. Galor, Oded & Zeira, Joseph, 1988. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," MPRA Paper 51644, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 01 Sep 1989.
  5. Christopher Udry & Santosh Anagol, 2006. "The Return to Capital in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 388-393, May.
  6. 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).
  7. Dan Bernhardt & Huw Lloyd-Ellis, 1993. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Working Papers 893, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  8. Arne Bigsten & Paul Collier & Stefan Dercon & Marcel Fafchamps & Bernard Gauthier & Jan Willem Gunning & Abena Oduro & Remco Oostendorp & Cathy Patillo & M�ns S–derbom & Francis Teal & Albert Zeufack, 2003. "Credit Constraints in Manufacturing Enterprises in Africa," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 12(1), pages 104-125, March.
  9. Henley, Andrew & Arabsheibani, G. Reza & Carneiro, Francisco G., 2006. "On defining and measuring the informal sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3866, The World Bank.
  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.
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