Summary: Using a unique firm-level survey data base, covering fifty four countries, the authors investigate whether different financial, legal, and corruption issues that firms report as constraints, actually affect their growth rates. The results show that the extent to which these factors constrain a firm's growth depends very much on its size, and that it is consistently the smallest firms that are most adversely affected by all these constraints. Firm growth is more affected by reported constraints in countries with underdeveloped financial, and legal systems, and higher corruption. So, policy measures to improve financial, and legal development, and reduce corruption are well justified in promoting firm growth, particularly the development of the small, and medium enterprise sector. But the evidence also shows that the intuitive descriptors of an "efficient" legal system, are not correlated with the components of the general legal constraints that predict firm growth. This finding suggests that the mechanism by which the legal system affects firm performance, is not well understood. The authors' findings also provide evidence that the corruption of bank officials, constraints firm growth. This "institutional failure" should be taken into account, when modeling the monitoring role of financial institutions in overcoming market failures due to informational asymmetries.
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