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Microcredit in Pre-Famine Ireland

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Author Info

  • Aidan Hollis

    (University of Calgary)

  • Arthur Sweetman

    (University of Victoria)

Abstract

Hundreds of independent, local, quasi-charitable microcredit societies, or "loan funds," were lending to as many as 20% of Irish households in the mid-nineteenth century. Monitored by a central regulatory authority, funds in the system were successful in mitigating informational, moral hazard and enforcement problems, and thus operated at a surplus in a market where intermediation by the banks seems not to have been possible. Created under special legislation, their goal was to relieve poverty by providing credit to the "industrious poor" on a large scale, at competitive interest rates, without public funding. Evidence from the loan funds offers new insights into capital formation in the Irish economy of the nineteenth century and suggests that traditional notions regarding the economic activities of the Irish poor may need to be rethought; it is also relevant for development economists studying current microcredit initiatives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Economic History with number 9704002.

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Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: 15 Apr 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpeh:9704002

Note: 43 pages, Figure 1 not included
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References

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  1. Aidan Hollis & Arthur Sweetman, 1997. "Complementarity, Competition and Institutional Development: The Irish Loan Funds through Three Centuries," Economic History 9704003, EconWPA.
  2. Hoff, Karla, 2008. "Joseph E. Stiglitz," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4478, The World Bank.
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Cited by:
  1. Barrett, Alan & Kearney, Ide & McCarthy, Yvonne, 2006. "Quarterly Economic Commentary, Winter 2006," Forecasting Report, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), number QEC20064, March.
  2. Edward S. Prescott, 1997. "Group lending and financial intermediation: an example," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Fall, pages 23-48.
  3. Hollis, Aidan & Sweetman, Arthur, 2001. "The life-cycle of a microfinance institution: the Irish loan funds," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 291-311, November.
  4. Marc Prat Sabartes, 2008. "Cotton manufacturers as bankers: the textile trade and credit in spain (1840-1913)," Working Papers in Economics 189, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.
  5. Goodspeed, Tyler, 2013. "Famine, Finance, and Adjustment to Environmental Shock: Microcredit and the Great Famine in Ireland," MPRA Paper 50324, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Hollis, Aidan & Sweetman, Arthur, 1998. "Microcredit: What can we learn from the past?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(10), pages 1875-1891, October.
  7. Gutiérrez-Nieto, Begoña & Serrano-Cinca, Carlos & Mar Molinero, Cecilio, 2007. "Microfinance institutions and efficiency," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 131-142, April.
  8. Aidan Hollis & Arthur Sweetman, 1997. "Complementarity, Competition and Institutional Development: The Irish Loan Funds through Three Centuries," Economic History 9704003, EconWPA.
  9. Hollis, Aidan & Sweetman, Arthur, 2004. "Microfinance and Famine: The Irish Loan Funds during the Great Famine," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(9), pages 1509-1523, September.

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