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Comparing Apples with....Apples : how to make (more) sense of subjective rankings of constraints to business

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  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary
  • Aterido, Reyes

Abstract

The use of expert or qualitative surveys to rank countries’ business investment conditions is widespread. However, within the economic literature there are concerns about measurement error and endogeneity based on characteristics of the respondents, raising questions about how well the data reflect the underlying reality they are trying to measure. This paper examines these concerns using data from 79,000 firms in 105 countries. The findings show that first, qualitative rankings correlate well with quantitative measures of the business environment, using both quantitative measures from within the survey and from external sources. Second, there are systematic variations in perceptions based on firm characteristics - focusing in particular on size and growth performance. However, it is not that an optimistic view of the business environment is simply the expression of a firm’s own performance. Rather, firm size and performance affect the relative importance of certain constraints, particularly in areas such as finance, time with officials/inspectors, corruption, and access to reliable electricity. The results also show that much of the variation in subjective responses by firm types is largely due to differences in the objective conditions across firm types. There is little evidence that size and performance have non-linear effects in how constraining a given objective condition is reported to be. Overall, concerns about endogeneity remain in using business environment indicators to explain firm performance, but this stems primarily from the fact that who you are and how well you are doing can affect the conditions you face rather than whether the indicator used is qualitative or quantitative.

Suggested Citation

  • Hallward-Driemeier, Mary & Aterido, Reyes, 2009. "Comparing Apples with....Apples : how to make (more) sense of subjective rankings of constraints to business," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5054, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5054
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlin, Wendy & Schaffer, Mark & Seabright, Paul, 2013. "Soviet power plus electrification: What is the long-run legacy of communism?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 116-147.
    2. Silvio Contessi & Francesca de Nicola & Li Li, 2014. "International trade, female labor and entrepreneurship in MENA countries," Chapters,in: The Economic and Political Aftermath of the Arab Spring, chapter 4, pages 106-140 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Clarke George R, 2011. "Are Managers' Perceptions of Constraints to Growth Reliable? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in South Africa," Journal of Globalization and Development, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-28, August.
    4. Carmen Pagés-Serra & Reyes Aterido & Mary Hallward-Driemeier, 2007. "Investment Climate and Employment Growth: The Impact of Access to Finance, Corruption and Regulations Across Firms," Research Department Publications 4559, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    5. Reyes Aterido & Mary Hallward-Driemeier & Carmen Pagés, 2011. "Big Constraints to Small Firms' Growth? Business Environment and Employment Growth across Firms," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(3), pages 609-647.
    6. Bouton, Lawrence & Tiongson, Erwin R., 2010. "Subjective perceptions of financing constraints: How well do they reflect credit market conditions?," Emerging Markets Review, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 98-105, June.
    7. Carmen Pagés-Serra & Reyes Aterido & Mary Hallward-Driemeier, 2007. "Clima de negocios y creación de empleo: El efecto del acceso al crédito, la corrupción y el marco regulatorio en el crecimiento de las empresas," Research Department Publications 4560, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    8. Lant Pritchett & Mary Hallward-Driemeier, 2010. "How Business is Done and the 'Doing Business' Indicators: The Investment Climate when Firms have Climate Control," CID Working Papers 211, Center for International Development at Harvard University.
    9. Florian Misch & Norman Gemmell & Richard Kneller, 2014. "Using surveys of business perceptions as a guide to growth-enhancing fiscal reforms," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 22(4), pages 683-725, October.
    10. World Bank, 2010. "Bhutan Investment Climate Assessment Report : Vitalizing the Private Sector, Creating Jobs, Volume 2," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12872, The World Bank.
    11. Kaplan, David S. & Pathania, Vikram, 2010. "What influences firms' perceptions?," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 419-431, December.
    12. Carlin, Wendy & Schaffer, Mark E & Seabright, Paul, 2010. "A Framework for Cross-Country Comparisons of Public Infrastructure Constraints on Firm Growth," CEPR Discussion Papers 7662, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. World Bank, 2010. "Bhutan Investment Climate Assessment Report : Vitalizing the Private Sector, Creating Jobs, Volume 1. Summary Report," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12871, The World Bank.
    14. Ayyagari, Meghana & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Maksimovic, Vojislav, 2010. "Are innovating firms victims or perpetrators ? tax evasion, bribe payments, and the role of external finance in developing countries," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5389, The World Bank.
    15. Nurullah Gur, 2012. "Financial Constraints, Quality of Institutions and Firm Size: What Do Perceptions Tell Us?," Eurasian Economic Review, Springer;Eurasia Business and Economics Society, vol. 2(2), pages 17-36, December.

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    Keywords

    Microfinance; E-Business; Transport Economics Policy&Planning; Debt Markets; Access to Finance;

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