Small Business Economics

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 701–715 | Cite as

Perceived credit constraints in the European Union

  • Erik Canton
  • Isabel Grilo
  • Josefa Monteagudo
  • Peter van der ZwanEmail author


The promotion and support of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is an essential component of policies designed to help improve Europe’s economic performance. A crucial issue is whether SMEs face difficulty obtaining bank loans. Using pre-crisis survey data from 2005 and 2006 for nearly 3,500 SMEs (firms with fewer than 250 employees) in the European Union (EU), we investigate the determinants of perceived bank loan accessibility at the firm level and at the country level. Based on hierarchical (multi-level) binomial logit regressions, our findings show that the youngest and smallest SMEs have the worst perception of access to bank loans. The SMEs in nations with concentrated banking sectors are more positive about loan accessibility. In addition, a high fraction of foreign-owned banks is associated with improved perception of loan accessibility in the EU 15 but not in the EU 10.


Bank loans Money supply SMEs Credit constraints Concentration index Multi-level 

JEL Classifications

E44 E51 G15 G21 



At the time of writing this paper, Erik Canton was employed at the European Commission (DG Enterprise and Industry). The views expressed here are those of the authors and should not be attributed to Ecorys or the European Commission. The authors would like to thank Jozef Konings, Jacques Mairesse, Roy Thurik, seminar participants at the European Commission and Erasmus University Rotterdam, and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments. This study benefited from a grant by the “Van Cappellen Stichting”.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erik Canton
    • 1
  • Isabel Grilo
    • 2
  • Josefa Monteagudo
    • 2
  • Peter van der Zwan
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Ecorys NederlandRotterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.DG Economic and Financial AffairsEuropean CommissionBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Erasmus School of EconomicsErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Panteia/EIM Business and Policy ResearchZoetermeerThe Netherlands

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