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What does debt relief do for development ? evidence from India's bailout program for highly-indebted rural households

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  • Kanz, Martin

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of a large debt relief program, intended to attenuate investment constraints among highly-indebted households in rural India. It isolates the causal effect of bankruptcy-like debt relief settlements using a natural experiment arising from India's Debt Relief Program for Small and Marginal Farmers -- one of the largest debt relief initiatives in history. The analysis shows that debt relief has a persistent effect on the level of household debt, but does not increase investment and productivity as predicted by theories of debt overhang. Instead, the anticipation of future credit constraints leads to a greater reliance on informal financing, lower investment and a decline in productivity among bailout recipients. The results suggest that one-time settlements may be insufficient to incentivize new investment, but can have significant real effects through their impact on borrower expectations.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6258.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6258

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Keywords: Access to Finance; Debt Markets; Bankruptcy and Resolution of Financial Distress; Banks&Banking Reform; External Debt;

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  1. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  2. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, 02.
  3. Patrick Bolton & Howard Rosenthal, 2002. "Political Intervention in Debt Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1103-1134, October.
  4. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," NBER Working Papers 12149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Eaton, Jonathan, 1990. "Debt Relief and the International Enforcement of Loan Contracts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 43-56, Winter.
  6. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth, 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 155-78, February.
  7. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
  8. Song Han & Geng Li, 2011. "Household Borrowing after Personal Bankruptcy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 43, pages 491-517, 03.
  9. Krugman, Paul, 1988. "Financing vs. forgiving a debt overhang," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 253-268, November.
  10. Bulow, Jeremy & Rogoff, Kenneth S., 1989. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," Scholarly Articles 12491028, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
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