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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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File URL: http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/05/24/000442464_20130524102916/Rendered/PDF/779270WP0P11510PUBLIC00ReturnsWAEMU.pdf
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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. Oded Galor & Joseph Zeira, 2013. "Income Distribution and Macroeconomics," Working Papers 2013-12, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Paul Collier & Stefan Dercon & Marcel Fafchamps, 2000. "Credit Constraints in Manufacturing Enterprises in Africa," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2000-24, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Christopher Udry & Santosh Anagol, 2006. "The Return to Capital in Ghana," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 388-393, May.
  5. Christopher Udry & Santosh Anagol, 2006. "The Return to Capital in Ghana," Working Papers 932, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  6. 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, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
  7. Lloyd-Ellis, Huw & Bernhardt, Dan, 2000. "Enterprise, Inequality and Economic Development," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 147-68, January.
  8. 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.
  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. 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.
  11. 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.
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