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Are Women More Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns

45 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016  

Suresh de Mel

University of Peradeniya

David J. McKenzie

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Christopher M. Woodruff

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS)

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Date Written: October 1, 2008

Abstract

This paper analyzes data from a randomized experiment on mean returns to capital in Sri Lankan micro-enterprises. The findings show greater returns among men than among women; indeed, returns were not different from zero for women. The authors explore different explanations for the lower returns among female owners, and find no evidence that the gender gap is explained by differences in ability, risk aversion, or entrepreneurial attitudes. Differential access to unpaid family labor and social constraints limiting sales to local areas are not important. However, there is evidence that women invested grants differently from men. A smaller share of the smaller grants remained in the female-owned enterprises, and men were more likely to spend the grant on working capital and women on equipment. The gender gap is largest when male-dominated sectors are compared with female-dominated sectors, although female returns are lower than male returns even for females working in the same industries as men. The authors examine the heterogeneity of returns to determine whether any group of businesses owned by women benefit from easing capital constraints. The results suggest there is a large group of high-return male owners and a smaller group of poor, high-ability, female owners who might benefit from more access to capital.

Keywords: Access to Finance, Debt Markets, Gender and Health, Economic Theory & Research

Suggested Citation

de Mel, Suresh and McKenzie, David J. and Woodruff, Christopher M., Are Women More Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns (October 1, 2008). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper Series, Vol. , pp. -, 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1277785

Suresh De Mel

University of Peradeniya ( email )

University of Peradeniya
Dept of Economics & Statistics
Peradeniya
Sri Lanka
+94 81 2392622 (Phone)

David John McKenzie (Contact Author)

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
MSN3-311
Washington, DC 20433
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Christopher Woodruff

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States
858-534-0590 (Phone)
858-534-3939 (Fax)

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