Abhit Bhandari, Temple University

Connections, Gender, and Access to State-Facilitated Private-Sector Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Senegal.

In developing countries, access to opportunities within the private sector are often unequallydistributed. Advantages accrue to those with connections to the state or to those with priv-ileged social status. The magnitude and location of where these factors precisely make animpact are less understood, however. In this paper, I locate precisely where leakages occur bycausally estimating the impact of political and social determinants of access to private-sectordevelopment under unevenly enforced rule of law. I do so by implementing a field experimentin Senegal in which I create a registered business and randomize co-partisanship and genderduring entrepreneurs’ applications for valuable business permits at municipal councils. I findthat co-partisan applicants deal with fewer steps in the application process and are more likelyto successfully deposit their applications. Women are more likely to have their applicationsrejected immediately, despite following the same procedures as men. Once deposited, how-ever, applications have an equally probable chance of conditional acceptance, suggesting thatthe initial point of access is where political and social factors are most valuable. By high-lighting the specific areas along the institutional pathway where partisanship and gender aremost influential, this paper offers causal evidence to inform policy to reduce the barriers facingentrepreneurs, particularly women, in developing countries.

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