PAL Team on Microfinance

27 May 2009 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

As a microfinance skeptic I was particularly interested in the new paper from the J-PAL team of Banerjee, Duflo, Glennerster, and Kinnan, “The Miracle of Microfinance? Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation.” Despite the pedestrian abstract, the findings are pretty significant:

To date there have been no randomized trials examining the impact of microcredit. Using such a design, 52 of 104 slums in Hyderabad, India were randomly selected for opening of an MFI branch while the remainder were not. We show that the intervention increased total MFI borrowing, and study the effects on new business starts, investment, and consumption. Households with an existing business at the time of the program invest in durable goods, and their profi…ts increase. Households with high propensity to become business owners see a decrease in nondurable consumption, consistent with the need to pay a …fixed cost to enter entrepreneurship. Households with low propensity to become business owners see nondurable spending increase. We …find no impact on measures of health, education, or women’’s decision-making.

Ryan Hahn puts it this way: The verdict is in on microfinance. . . . And it’s not pretty.” He means that microfinance does appear to have a positive marginal effect on business formation and expansion, but the effect is modest and does not (at least within a 15-18-month timeframe) have any discernible effect on well-being.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Entrepreneurship, Institutions, Myths and Realities.

Research Workshop on Institutions and Organizations Way to Go Curtis

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