The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence
AbstractThe most-noted studies on the impact of microcredit on households are based on a survey fielded in Bangladesh in the 1990s. Contradictions among them have produced lasting controversy and confusion. Pitt and Khandker (PK, 1998) apply a quasi-experimental design to 1991–92 data; they conclude that microcredit raises household consumption, especially when lent to women. Khandker (2005) applies panel methods using a 1999 resurvey; he concurs and extrapolates to conclude that microcredit helps the extremely poor even more than the moderately poor. But using simpler estimators than PK, Morduch (1999) finds no impact on the level of consumption in the 1991–92 data, even as he questions PK’s identifying assumptions. He does find evidence that microcredit reduces consumption volatility. Partly because of the sophistication of PK’s Maximum Likelihood estimator, the conflicting results were never directly confronted and reconciled. We end the impasse. A replication exercise shows that all these studies’ evidence for impact is weak. As for PK’s headline results, we obtain opposite signs. But we do not conclude that lending to women does harm. Rather, all three studies appear to fail in expunging endogeneity. We conclude that for non-experimental methods to retain a place in the program evaluator’s portfolio, the quality of the claimed natural experiments must be high and demonstrated.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Center for Global Development in its series Working Papers with number 174.
Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
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microcredit; impact evaluation; Grameen Bank; Bangladesh; replication; mixed-process models;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
- C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Longitudinal Data; Spatial Time Series
- C24 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Truncated and Censored Models; Switching Regression Models
- C25 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Discrete Regression and Qualitative Choice Models; Discrete Regressors; Proportions
- O12 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
- O16 - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-DEV-2009-07-03 (Development)
- NEP-MFD-2009-07-03 (Microfinance)
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