Sri Lanka's Rural Non-farm Economy: Removing Constraints to Pro-poor Growth

We use a survey of small rural enterprises from Sri Lanka to demonstrate quantitatively the economic importance of this sector and to identify participants' characteristics and obstacles to the sector's expansion and productivity. Value added in the rural non-farm sector is estimated to amount to 80% of agricultural GDP and mean incomes for those having a rural enterprise to be about double of those who do not. Barriers to entry appear to be low and the impact of non-farm enterprise development on inequality modest and temporary, implying the potential for the sector to make a significant contribution to growth and poverty reduction. At the same time, infrastructure constraints (but not regulatory obstacles) pose a formidable barrier to startup of new enterprises and to investment and increased productivity by existing ones. The fact that such constraints emerge as particularly harmful for small enterprises suggests that policies to improve delivery of the public services in question will be important to provide a basis for a flourishing rural non-farm sector which in turn will have an important role for poverty reduction.

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Selected Paper 137009

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2020-10-28

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