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Does microcredit reach the poor and vulnerable? Evidence from northern Bangladesh

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  • Amin, Sajeda
  • Rai, Ashok S.
  • Topa, Giorgio

Abstract

Subsidized loans have a history of being diverted to the rich. Yet recently microcredit programs, such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, have become popular among donors and governments as a way to channel funds to the poor. This paper uses a unique panel dataset from two Bangladeshi villages to test if the modern microcredit movement is different from its predecessors. Poverty is measured by levels of consumption. Vulnerability is measured as fluctuations in consumption associated with inefficient risk sharing. We find that subsidized credit is largely successful at reaching the poor and vulnerable. The probability that a microcredit member is below the poverty line is substantially higher than that of a randomly picked household in both villages. In the village where female headed households were found to be vulnerable, nearly half of the female headed households belonged to microcredit programs yet only a quarter of male headed households were microcredit members. While restricting loans to the landless is not effective in reaching the poor and vulnerable, targeting female headed households is.
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Suggested Citation

  • Amin, Sajeda & Rai, Ashok S. & Topa, Giorgio, 2003. "Does microcredit reach the poor and vulnerable? Evidence from northern Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 59-82, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:70:y:2003:i:1:p:59-82
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Martin Ravallion & Gaurav Datt, 1995. "Is Targeting Through a Work Requirement Efficient? Some Evidence for Rural India," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-41, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Townsend, Robert M, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in Village India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(3), pages 539-591, May.
    3. repec:pri:rpdevs:morduch_microfinance_poor is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
    5. Jalan, Jyotsna & Ravallion, Martin, 1999. "Are the poor less well insured? Evidence on vulnerability to income risk in rural China," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(1), pages 61-81, February.
    6. Navajas, Sergio & Schreiner, Mark & Meyer, Richard L. & Gonzalez-vega, Claudio & Rodriguez-meza, Jorge, 2000. "Microcredit and the Poorest of the Poor: Theory and Evidence from Bolivia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 333-346, February.
    7. Anderson, Gordon, 1996. "Nonparametric Tests of Stochastic Dominance in Income Distributions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 64(5), pages 1183-1193, September.
    8. Quentin Wodon, 1997. "Food energy intake and cost of basic needs: Measuring poverty in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(2), pages 66-101.
    9. 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.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • Q12 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Micro Analysis of Farm Firms, Farm Households, and Farm Input Markets

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