Household Matters: Revisiting the Returns to Capital among Female Micro-entrepreneurs

Journal Article
Published on 14 October 2014


Several field experiments find positive returns to grants for male and not female micro-entrepreneurs. But these analyses overlook that female entrepreneurs often reside with a male business owner. Using data from randomized trials in India, Sri Lanka and Ghana, Bernhardt, Field, Pande, and Rigol (2017) show that the gender gap in microenterprise performance is not due to a gap in aptitude. Instead, low average returns of female-run enterprises reflects the fact that women's capital is typically invested into their husband's enterprise. Household-level income gains are equivalent regardless of the grant or loan recipient's gender.