IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries With a Consumer Credit Field Experiment

  • Dean Karlan
  • Jonathan Zinman

Information asymmetries are important in theory but difficult to identify in practice. We estimate the presence and importance of hidden information and hidden action problems in a consumer credit market using a new field experiment methodology. We randomized 58,000 direct mail offers to former clients of a major South African lender along three dimensions: (i) an initial "offer interest rate" featured on a direct mail solicitation; (ii) a "contract interest rate" that was revealed only after a borrower agreed to the initial offer rate; and (ii) a dynamic repayment incentive that was also a surprise and extended preferential pricing on future loans to borrowers who remained in good standing. These three randomizations, combined with complete knowledge of the lender's information set, permit identification of specific types of private information problems. Our setup distinguishes hidden information effects from selection on the offer rate (via unobservable risk and anticipated effort), from hidden action effects (via moral hazard in effort) induced by actual contract terms. We find strong evidence of moral hazard and weaker evidence of hidden information problems. A rough estimate suggests that perhaps 13% to 21% of default is due to moral hazard. Asymmetric information thus may help explain the prevalence of credit constraints even in a market that specializes in financing high-risk borrowers. Copyright 2009 The Econometric Society.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.3982/ECTA5781
File Function: link to full text
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Econometric Society in its journal Econometrica.

Volume (Year): 77 (2009)
Issue (Month): 6 (November)
Pages: 1993-2008

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:6:p:1993-2008
Contact details of provider: Phone: 1 212 998 3820
Fax: 1 212 995 4487
Web page: http://www.econometricsociety.org/
Email:


More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web: https://www.econometricsociety.org/publications/econometrica/access/ordering-back-issues Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Nidhiya Menon, 2004. "Consumption Smoothing in Micro Credit Programs," Development and Comp Systems 0403005, EconWPA.
  2. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  3. Eaton, Jonathan & Gersovitz, Mark, 1981. "Debt with Potential Repudiation: Theoretical and Empirical Analysis," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 289-309, April.
  4. Robert Cressy & Otto Toivanen, 2001. "Is there adverse selection in the credit market?," Venture Capital, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(3), pages 215-238, July.
  5. Dilip Mookherjee & Debraj Ray, 2000. "Contractual Structure and Wealth Accumulation," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 107, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  6. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 2001. "Advantageous Selection in Insurance Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 32(2), pages 249-62, Summer.
  7. Paul S. Calem & Loretta J. Mester, . "Consumer Behavior and the Stickiness of CreditCard Interest Rates," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 03-94, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  8. Parikshit Ghosh & Debraj Ray, 1999. "Information and Enforcement in Informal Credit Markets," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 93, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  9. Wasmer, Etienne & Weil, Philippe, 2000. "The Macroeconomics of Labor and Credit Market Imperfections," IZA Discussion Papers 179, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. R. Glenn Hubbard, 1998. "Capital-Market Imperfections and Investment," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 193-225, March.
  11. DeanS. Karlan, 2007. "Social connections and group banking," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages F52-F84, 02.
  12. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
  13. Elyasiani, Elyas & Goldberg, Lawrence G., 2004. "Relationship lending: a survey of the literature," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 56(4), pages 315-330.
  14. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
  15. Xavier Freixas & Jean-Charles Rochet, 1997. "Microeconomics of Banking," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061937, June.
  16. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther, 2004. "Do Firms Want to Borrow More? Testing Credit Constraints Using a Directed Lending Program," CEPR Discussion Papers 4681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  17. de Meza, David & Webb, David C, 1987. "Too Much Investment: A Problem of Asymmetric Information," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 281-92, May.
  18. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1987. "Financial Fragility and Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 2318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
  20. Morduch, J., 1995. "Poverty and Vulnerability," Papers 477, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
  21. Jaffee, Dwight M & Russell, Thomas, 1976. "Imperfect Information, Uncertainty, and Credit Rationing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 90(4), pages 651-66, November.
  22. de Meza, David & Webb, David, 2000. "Does credit rationing imply insufficient lending?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(3), pages 215-234, November.
  23. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Morduch & Pamela Jakiela & Xavier Gine, 2006. "Microfinance games," Framed Field Experiments 00150, The Field Experiments Website.
  24. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Elasticities of Demand for Consumer Credit," Working Papers 926, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  25. Philippe Weil & Etienne Wasmer, 2004. "The macroeconomics of credit and labor market imperfections," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/13436, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  26. William G. Gale, 1988. "Federal Lending and the Market for Credit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 504, UCLA Department of Economics.
  27. Bruce Shearer, 2004. "Piece Rates, Fixed Wages and Incentives: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 513-534, 04.
  28. Beatriz Armendariz & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "The Economics of Microfinance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262512017, June.
  29. Pierre André Chiappori & Bernard Salanié, 2002. "Testing Contract Theory: A Survey of Some Recent Work," CESifo Working Paper Series 738, CESifo Group Munich.
  30. Erik Hurst & Annamaria Lusardi, 2004. "Liquidity Constraints, Household Wealth, and Entrepreneurship," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(2), pages 319-347, April.
  31. Brad M. Barber & Terrance Odean, 2001. "Boys Will Be Boys: Gender, Overconfidence, And Common Stock Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(1), pages 261-292, February.
  32. Bester,Helmut Hellwig,Martin, 1987. "Moral hazard and equilibrium credit rationing: An overview of the issues," Discussion Paper Serie A 125, University of Bonn, Germany.
  33. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521793421 is not listed on IDEAS
  34. Amy Finkelstein & Kathleen McGarry, 2006. "Multiple Dimensions of Private Information: Evidence from the Long-Term Care Insurance Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 938-958, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:77:y:2009:i:6:p:1993-2008. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing)

or (Christopher F. Baum)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.