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.

  • 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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  • Microfinance in Northeast Thailand: Who Benefits and How Much?

    Coleman (2006)

    Original abstract:

    This paper evaluates the outreach and impact of two micro_nance programs in Thailand, controlling for endogenous self-selection and program placement. Results indicate that the wealthier villagers are signi_cantly more likely to participate than the poor. Moreover, the wealthiest often become program committee members and borrow substantially more than rank-and-_le members. However, local information on creditworthiness is also used to select members. The programs positively a_ect household welfare for committee members, but impact is insigni_cant for rank-and-_le members. Policy recommendations include vigilance in targeting the poor, publicly disseminating the program rules and purpose, and introducing and enforcing eligibility criteria.

    Intervention settings: Rural/

    Intervention description: Credit. Some savings, which may be used to provide loans.

    Methodology: Pipeline design, panel data of participating and non-participating HH and moderate robustness.

    Sample: 445 households. Most engage in small-scale agriculture (91.3% of women and 90.4% of men surveyed listed farming as primary or secondary occupation).

    Findings: Positive impact on savings and business revenues of wealthier women members (no impact on poorer women). Increased business sales among wealthier members (no impact on poorer women). Wealthier women were more likely to participate in village banks than poor women (mistargeting).

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  • Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts

    Karlan and Zinman (2010)

    Original abstract:

    Expanding access to commercial credit is a key ingredient of financial development strategies. There is less consensus on whether expanding access to consumer credit helps borrowers, particularly when loans are extended at high interest rates. Popular skepticism about "unproductive," "usurious" lending is fueled by research highlighting behavioral biases that may induce overborrowing. We estimate the impacts of expanding access to consumer credit at a 200% annual percentage rate (APR) using a field experiment and follow-up data collection. The randomly assigned marginal loans produced significant net benefits for borrowers across a wide range of outcomes. There is also some evidence that the loans were profitable.

    Intervention settings: Urban.

    Intervention description: Individual credit with median loan size of $127, 40% of average borrower's gross monthly income. Assessed impact of offering access to individual loans to marginal clients who otherwise would have been rejected.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Poor men and women wage workers.

    Findings: Positive impact of access to credit on clients' retention of jobs (loans likely helped clients smoothe or avoid shocks that prevent them from getting to work). Positive impact of access to credit on HH incomes. Loans increased HH food consumption. Reported experiencing increased HH decision-making (though small sample size of married women and imprecise estimate). No significant difference in impact of credit assigned to men and women.

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  • Impact of Microcredit in Rural Areas of Morocco: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation

    Crepon et al (2011)

    Original abstract:

    Microcredit has rapidly expanded in the past years, providing access to financial services to a large population previously excluded from the financial system. However, whether it helps the poor has been a subject of intense debate on which, until very recently, there was no rigorous evidence. This paper reports the results of a randomized experiment designed to measure the impact of microcredit in rural areas of Morocco. Within the catchment areas of new MFI branches opened in areas that had previously no access to microcredit, 81 pairs of matched villages were selected. The treatment villages, randomly selected within each pair, were offered microcredit just after Al Amana opened the branch, while the control villages were offered access only two years later. Al Amana program increased access to credit significantly. Its main effect was to expand the scale of existing self-employment activities of households, for both non-livestock agriculture and livestock activities. We find little or no effect on average consumption as well as on other outcomes such as health, education, etc. However, treatment effects are heterogeneous depending on whether the households had an existing self-employment activity at baseline. Households that had a pre-existing activity decrease their non-durable consumption and consumption overall, as they save and borrow to expand their activities. Households that had not a pre-existing activity increase food and durable expenditure and no effects on business outcomes are observed.

    Intervention settings: Rural

    Intervention description: A randomly selected half of 82 paired villages in the catchment areas of newly opened microfinance branches with no previous access to microcredit were offered microcredit (group liability loans), with the remaining villages receiving the same offer two years later.

    Methodology: RCT

    Sample: 4,495 households in 80 pairs of villages.

    Findings: 13% increase in HH having a microfinance loan in the treatment villages. Both livestock and non-livestock agricultural activities expanded in the treatment villages (limited to households with a business activity pre-intervention). No effect on average household consumption, poverty or on other outcomes such as health and education. The majority of borrowers were men, and there was no measurable effect on women's empowerment.

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