The Binding Constraint on Firms'Growth in Developing Countries
42 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016
Date Written: November 1, 2010
Firms in developing countries face numerous and serious constraints on their growth, ranging from corruption to lack of infrastructure to inability to access finance. Countries lack the resources to remove all the constraints at once and so would be better off removing the most binding one first. This paper uses data from World Bank Enterprise Surveys in 2006-10 to identify the most binding constraints on firm operations in developing countries. While each country faces a different set of constraints, these constraints also vary by firm characteristics, especially firm size. Across all countries, access to finance is among the most binding constraints; other obstacles appear to matter much less. This result is robust for all regions. Smaller firms must rely more on their own funds to invest and would grow significantly faster if they had greater access to external funds. As a result, a low level of financial development skews the firm size distribution by increasing the relative share of small firms. The results suggest that financing constraints play a significant part in explaining the "missing middle" -- the failure of small firms in developing countries to grow into medium-size or large firms.
Keywords: Access to Finance, Environmental Economics & Policies, Microfinance, Debt Markets, Banks & Banking Reform
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