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.

  • Are Women more Credit Constrained? Experimental Evidence on Gender and Microenterprise Returns

    de Mel et al (2009)

    Original abstract:

    We report on a field experiment providing random grants to microenterprise owners. The grants generated large profit increases for male owners, but not for female owners. We show that the gender gap does not simply mask differences in ability, risk aversion, entrepreneurial attitudes, or differences in reporting behavior, but there is some evidence that the gender gap is larger in female-dominated industries. The data are not consistent with a unitary household model, and indeed, imply an inefficiency of resource allocation within households. We show evidence that this inefficiency is reduced in more cooperative households.

    Intervention settings: Peri-urban.

    Intervention description: Grants of $100 and $200 in cash or in-kind.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 405 low-capital microentrepreneurs (50% women).

    Findings: Positive returns to capital for men's businesses; mixed impact on women's businesses. Women invest very little of smaller grants in business, but as much, if not more than men of the larger grant. Women do not experience permanent increases in business income from grants, while men do.

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  • Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device

    Kast, Meier and Pomeranz (2012)

    Original abstract:

    We test the effectiveness of self-help peer groups as a commitment device for pre- cautionary savings, through two randomized field experiments among 2,687 micro- entrepreneurs in Chile. The first experiment finds that self-help peer groups are a powerful tool to increase savings (number of deposits grows 3.5-fold and average savings balance almost doubles). Conversely, a substantially higher interest rate has no effect on most participants. A second experiment tests an alternative delivery mechanism and shows that effects of a similar size can be achieved by holding people accountable through feedback text messages, without any meetings or peer pressure.

    Intervention settings: N/A (location unspecified).

    Intervention description: Peer group pressure versus increase in the real interest rate. Text message reminders one year after accounts offered.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: Low-income micro-enterprise owners in 196 micro-finance groups with savings accounts in the participating bank.

    Findings: Individuals in the peer group pressure treatment group saved 3.5 times more often and had more than twice the level of accumulated savings after one year. In contrast, a higher interest rate had almost no effect on savings. The text messages alone had almost as large an effect as peer group pressure. No gender specific effects are reported.

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  • Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines

    Ashraf, Karlan, and Yin (2007)

    Original abstract:

    Female "empowerment" has increasingly become a policy goal, both as an end to itself and as a means to achieving other development goals. Microfinance in particular has often been argued, but not without controversy, to be a tool for empowering women. Here, using a randomized controlled trial, we examine whether access to and marketing of an individually-held commitment savings product leads to an increase in female decision-making power within the household. We find positive impacts, particularly for women who have below median decision-making power in the baseline, and we find this leads to a shift towards female-oriented durables goods purchased in the household.

    Intervention settings: Unknown.

    Intervention description: Individual commitment savings product provided by a rural bank. Account matures only when a pre-specified goal is reached. Savings training.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 3,125 bank clients and non-clients (60% women and most married).

    Findings: Consumption of durables associated with women increased only among married women who started below the median level of decision-making power.

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  • Keeping it Simple: Financial Literacy and Rules of Thumb

    Drexler, Fischer, and Schoar (2012)

    Original abstract:

    Individuals and business owners engage in an increasingly complex array of financial decisions that are critical for their success and well-being. Yet a growing literature documents that in both developed and developing countries, a large fraction of the population is unprepared to make these decisions. Evidence on potential remedies is limited and mixed. Two randomized trials test the impact of financial training on firm-level and individual outcomes for microentrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic. We find no significant effect from a standard, fundamentals-based accounting training. However, a simplified, rule-of-thumb training produced significant and economically meaningful improvements in business practices and outcomes.

    Intervention settings: Urban (Santo Domingo).

    Intervention description: Comparison between: 1) Standard, fundamentals-based accounting training & 2) a simplified, rule-of-thumb training that teaches basic heuristics to manage finances.

    Methodology: RCT.

    Sample: 1,193 business or personal loan clients (90% women).

    Findings: Only rule-of-thumb training produced significant improvements in business practices and outcomes (by 6-12% relative to control). Increase in sales in bad weeks. Impact pronounced for micro-entrepreneurs with poor financial literacy upfront. Impacts suggest reducing complexity of training program.

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  • Microfinance and Poverty: Using Panel Data from Bangladesh

    Khandker (2005)

    Original abstract:

    Microfinance supports mainly informal activities that often have a low return and low market demand. It may therefore be hypothesized that the aggregate poverty impact of microfinance is modest or even nonexistent. If true, the poverty impact of microfinance observed at the participant level represents either income redistribution or short-run income generation from the microfinance intervention. This article examines the effects of microfinance on poverty reduction at both the participant and the aggregate levels using panel data from Bangladesh. The results suggest that access to microfinance contributes to poverty reduction, especially for female participants, and to overall poverty reduction at the village level. Microfinance thus helps not only poor participants but also the local economy.

    Intervention settings: Rural.

    Intervention description: Group-liability credit for income-generation activity. Some loans for consumption and housing.

    Methodology: Ex-post evaluation with panel data of clients and non-clients.

    Sample: Mainly women; very poor and poor.

    Findings: Credit led to much higher poverty reduction among women clients' HHs than among men's. Slightly higher impact on HHs in exterme poverty, than those in moderate poverty. MF accounts for more than half of the 3% decline in poverty among clients. Female borrowing has a positive effect on HH food consumption (male borrowing has no effect).

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