Constrained Potential: A Characterisation of Mexican Microenterprises

GIGA Working Papers, No. 309 (January 2018)

39 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2018

Date Written: January 31, 2018


This paper investigates the existence and nature of constraints prevailing among Mexican microenterprises. It provides inter-temporal insights by relying on firm-level data spanning from 1994 to 2012. A performance index is defined based on firm levels of capital stock and monthly profits, and is used to estimate the empirical probability of a business’s success. The predicted values are used to classify every microenterprise into one of three categories: upper, middle, or lower segment. Overall, the study provides evidence of constrained productivity and capital misallocation. Specifically, middle-segment firms exhibit entrepreneurial features and their average marginal returns are 15 percent. Because this segment faces mainly external constraints, cost-effective interventions are plausible. Regarding the lower-segment firms, it is estimated that their average monthly marginal returns are 30 per cent, compared to 1 per cent for the upper segment. It is also shown that, over time, the share that middle-segment firms represent relative to all microenterprises increased from 16 to 22 percent. Lastly, the sources of variation in monthly profits among segments are explored using the Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition method.

Keywords: microenterprises, returns to capital, constrained productivity, Mexico, decomposition method, empirical probability

JEL Classification: C25, D22, D24, N86, O12, O17

Suggested Citation

Negrete-García, Ana Karen, Constrained Potential: A Characterisation of Mexican Microenterprises (January 31, 2018). GIGA Working Papers, No. 309 (January 2018), Available at SSRN: or

Ana Karen Negrete-García (Contact Author)

Universidad de Guanajuato ( email )


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