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Do interest rates matter? Credit demand in the Dhaka slums

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  • Dehejia, Rajeev
  • Montgomery, Heather
  • Morduch, Jonathan

Abstract

“Best practice” in microfinance holds that interest rates should be set at profit-making levels, based on the belief that even poor customers favor access to finance over low fees. Despite this core belief, little direct evidence exists on the price elasticity of credit demand in poor communities. We examine increases in the interest rate on microfinance loans in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Using unanticipated between-branch variation in prices, we estimate interest elasticities from −0.73 to −1.04, with our preferred estimate being at the upper end of this range. Interest income earned from most borrowers fell, but interest income earned from the largest increased, generating overall profitability at the branch level.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 97 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 437-449

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:97:y:2012:i:2:p:437-449

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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Keywords: Microcredit; Interest rates; Loan demand; Credit constraints;

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  1. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Credit Elasticities in Less-Developed Economies: Implications for Microfinance," CEPR Discussion Papers 6071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  3. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4230, The World Bank.
  4. McKenzie, David J & Woodruff, Christopher, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(1), pages 3-42, October.
  5. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," NBER Working Papers 8314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Robert Cull & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Jonathan Morduch, 2009. "Microfinance Meets the Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 167-92, Winter.
  7. Alessie, Rob & Hochguertel, Stefan & Weber, Guglielmo, 2001. "Consumer Credit: Evidence from Italian Micro Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 3071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  9. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
  10. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  11. Beatriz Armendáriz & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "The Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262014106, December.
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