Bernhardt, Arielle, Erica Field, Rohini Pande, and Natalia Rigol. (2019) “Household Matters: Revisiting the Returns to Capital among Female Microentrepreneurs.” American Economic Review: Insights, 1 (2): 141-60.
Multiple field experiments report positive financial returns to capital shocks for male and not female microentrepreneurs. But these analyses overlook the fact that female entrepreneurs often reside with male entrepreneurs. Using data from experiments in India, Sri Lanka, and Ghana, we show that the observed gender gap in microenterprise responses does not reflect lower returns on investment, when measured at the household level. Instead, the absence of a profit response among female-run enterprises reflects the fact that women’s capital is typically invested into their husband’s enterprise. We cannot reject equivalence of household-level income gains for male and female capital shock recipients.