Original abstracts from the papers in the database are provided below. All abstracts are drawn directly from the papers referenced. Links to access the papers are provided, although
the papers may also be available from other web sources. By providing links to other sites, the United Nations Foundation and ExxonMobil Foundation do not guarantee, approve, or endorse the information or products available on these sites.

  • Mobile Banking: The Impact of M-Pesa in Kenya

    Mbiti and Weil (2011)

    Original abstract:

    M-Pesa is a mobile phone based money transfer system in Kenya which grew at a blistering pace following its inception in 2007. We examine how M-Pesa is used as well as its economic impacts. Analyzing data from two waves of individual data on financial access in Kenya, we find that increased use of M-Pesa lowers the propensity of people to use informal savings mechanisms such as ROSCAS, but raises the probability of their being banked. Using aggregate data, we calculate the velocity of M-Pesa at between 11.0 and 14.6 person-to-person transfers per month. In addition, we find that M-Pesa causes decreases in the prices of competing money transfer services such as Western Union. While we find little evidence that people use their M-Pesa accounts as a place to store wealth, our results suggest that M-Pesa improves individual outcomes by promoting banking and increasing transfers.

    Intervention settings: National.

    Intervention description: Availability of mobile moves service.

    Methodology: Fixed and random effects estimation using panel data.

    Sample: Aggregated household data from two nationally representative surveys conducted in 190 sublocations (i.e., clusters of 2-3 villages).

    Findings: The primary use of M-Pesa is the purchase of airtime - 42 percent of users. Contradictory to findings by Jack and Suri (2011) they find that only 26 percent of M-Pesa users report using the service for savings. Very small percentages of users report using M-Pesa for direct purchasing, paying bills or receiving salaries or wages. M-Pesa users are more likely to be male, wealthier, better educated, banked in the formal sector, employed in non-farm sectors and reside in urban areas. 35% of banked individuals use M-Pesa to save, compared to only 19% of the unbanked that use it as a savings tool. Wealthy individuals also more frequently use M-Pesa as a savings tool - 30% - as compared to poor individuals at 15%. Men use M-Pesa 35% more frequently than women. 35% of respondents indicated that they had increased the frequency of sending transfers and 18% indicating that they had decreased the frequency. Approximately 35% of M-Pesa users indicated that they had sent higher amounts in the transfers they had made and almost 20% stated they had decreased the amount. Positive relationship between M-Pesa adoption and the frequency of sending transfers. M-Pesa adoption increased the frequency of sending remittances by 2.

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  • The Labor Market Impacts of Youth Training in the Dominican Republic

    Card et al (2011)

    Original abstract:

    We report the impacts of a job training program operated in the Dominican Republic. A random sample of applicants was selected to undergo training, and information was gathered 10-14 months after graduation. Unfortunately, people originally assigned to treat- ment who failed to show up were not included in the follow-up survey, potentially compromising the evaluation design. We present estimates of the program effect, including comparisons that ignore the potential nonrandomness of "no-show" behavior, and estimates that model selectivity parametrically. We find little indication of a positive effect on employment outcomes but some evidence of a modest effect on earnings, conditional on working.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Basic skills and technical/vocational training (350 hours max). Internship (2 months).

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 1,345 individuals aged 16 to 29, 55% female.

    Findings: 10% increase in monthly earnings coming from an increase in hourly wages (imprecisely estimated). No impact on labor force participation, self-employment or wage labor. No significant impact on employability of trainees.

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  • Policies and Impact: An analysis of Village-Level Microfinance Institutions

    Kaboski and Townsend (2005)

    Original abstract:

    This paper uses variation in policies and institutional characteristics to evaluate the impacts of village-level microfinance institutions in rural Thailand. To identify impacts, we use policies related to the successful/unsuccessful provision of services as exogenous variation in effective financial intermediation. We find that institutions, particularly those with good policies, can promote asset growth, consumption smoothing and occupational mobility, and can decrease moneylender reliance. Specifically, cash-lending institutions-production credit groups and especially women's groups-are successful in providing intermediation and its benefits to members, while buffalo banks and rice banks are not. The policies identified as important to intermediation and benefits: the provision of savings services, especially pledged savings accounts; emergency services; and training and advice. Surprisingly, much publicized policies such as joint liability, default consequences, or repayment frequency had no measured impacts.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Credit (some training in income-generation), savings, village-level MFIs, and some use production credit groups and women's groups.

    Methodology: Structural model, longitudinal dataset and moderate robustness.

    Sample: Poor households.

    Findings: Women's groups and pledged savings positively associated with increased job mobility. Women's groups positively affected business start-up. Positive impact of cash loans from production credit groups and women's groups on HH asset growth. Positive association of flexible and pledged savings products with less reduction of consumption. Negative effect of flexible savings on business formation and job mobility. Pledged savings weakly associated with starting a business. Weak effect of pledged savings on business formation.

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  • Managing Resources, Activities and Risk in Urban India: The Impact of SEWA Bank

    Chen and Snodgrass (2001)

    Original abstract:

    This study measures the impact of microfinance services of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) on low-income women of Ahmedabad, in India. The explicit hypothesis was that specific impact may be found at three different levels - household, enterprise and the individual level. The data used for cross section and longitudinal statistical tests was from surveys conducted in 1998 and 2000 for 798 respondents. The researchers also carried out complementary analyses. The clients of SEWA were poor and belonged to backward sections of society. They faced severe discrimination and worked as micro entrepreneurs, subcontractors or casual laborers.

    Intervention settings: Urban

    Intervention description: Group liability credit (various types of training), savings and microinsurance.

    Methodology: Quasi-experimental, statistical comparison of members and non-members, and panel data.

    Sample: 798 very poor women working in informal sector (41% microentrepreneurs; 36% subcontractors; 22% casual laborers; only 1% salaried.) Most make under $1/day and belong to Backward of Scheduled castes or tribes (and all suffer severe gender/social class discrimination).

    Findings: Informal sector earnings of clients' households increased. Postive impact on total business earnings of HH. Small impact on number of employees of HH microenterprises. No impact on women's businesses.

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  • The Impact of Credit on Village Economies

    Kaboski and Townsend (2009)

    Original abstract:

    This paper evaluates the short-term impact of Thailand's 'Million Baht Village Fund' program, among the largest scale government microfinance iniative in the world, using pre- and post-program panel data and quasi-experimental cross-village variation in credit-per-household. We found that the village funds have increased total short-term credit, consumption, agricultural investment, income growth (from business and labor), but decreased overall asset growth. We also found a positive impact on wages, an important general equilibrium effect. The foundings are broadly consistent qualitatively with models of credit-constrained household behavior and models of intermediation and growth.

    Intervention settings: Rural and peri-urban.

    Intervention description: One-time government grant to establish village banks that offer credit.

    Methodology: Quasiexperimental, natural experiment, panel data at HH level and moderate robustness.

    Sample: 64 villages.

    Findings: Positive impact on HH business and labor incomes Female-headed HHs 10% more likely to have positive and above-average business incomes. Increase in HH consumption of elastic goods (e.g. fuel, meat, dairy). Increase in HH business income. No impact on business formation or investment.

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