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Do Subsidies Enhance or Erode the Cost Efficiency of Microfinance? Evidence from MFI Worldwide Micro Data

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  • Mieno, Fumiharu
  • Kai, Hisako
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    Abstract

    A recent issue in the microfinance literature is whether microfinance institutions (MFIs) are financially sustainable without a subsidy as a prerequisite for competition policy or commercialization processes. Although some recent studies have proposed relevant theoretical frameworks, empirical analyses are scarce. Using financial data for MFIs across a panel of 1791 observations for 2003-2006, we estimate a cost function for the MFIs and a measure of inefficiency using the stochastic frontier cost approach, and then examine the effects of subsidies, operating age and other possible factors as determinants of efficiency. We find that subsidies are generally not an impediment to cost efficiency; instead, they are generally utilized to improve cost efficiency. We also find that the effect of a subsidy on efficiency is larger for younger MFIs, suggesting that subsidies for these institutions are effectively utilized for intensifying initial technology investment or hu man resource development. The findings are consistent with the arguments that stress the importance of subsidies for the initial stage of development of MFIs, and partially contradictory to the claims that the subsidies generally erode MFIs’ financial sustainability.

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    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/22934/1/No26-dp.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University in its series PRIMCED Discussion Paper Series with number 26.

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    Length: 25 p.
    Date of creation: Mar 2012
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hit:primdp:26

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    Keywords: microfinance; financial institutions; frontier cost function approach;

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    1. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
    2. Gutiérrez-Nieto, Begoña & Serrano-Cinca, Carlos & Mar Molinero, Cecilio, 2007. "Microfinance institutions and efficiency," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 131-142, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Marek Hudon & Daniel Traca, 2006. "On the efficiency effects of subsidies in microfinance: an empirical inquiry," Working Papers CEB 06-020.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    5. Hisako KAI & Shigeyuki HAMORI, 2009. "Globalization, Financial Depth, and Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Discussion Papers 0912, Graduate School of Economics, Kobe University.
    6. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
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