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Repayment flexibility in microfinance contracts: Theory and experimental evidence on take up and selection

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  • Barboni, Giorgia

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of introducing repayment flexibility in microfinance contracts. I build an adverse selection model that predicts the existence of a separating equilibrium where lenders are able to achieve higher profits by simultaneously offering a rigid and a flexible repayment schedule, instead of just a rigid contract. Lab-in-the field games with Indian microentrepreneurs confirm the model predictions. I offer subjects both a flexible and a rigid repayment schedule and exogenously vary the price of the flexible schedule. I find that high-revenues borrowers are more likely to take up the flexible schedule than low-revenues ones, and even more so when the flexible schedule is more expensive than the rigid one. Risk-averse borrowers, on the contrary, are more likely to stick to the rigid contract when this is cheaper than the flexible contract. The paper thus indicates that lenders should offer a menu of contracts where the flexible and the rigid contract are provided simultaneously, at different prices. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indeed suggest that this mixed contract is more profitable than the standard, rigid microfinance contract.

Suggested Citation

  • Barboni, Giorgia, 2017. "Repayment flexibility in microfinance contracts: Theory and experimental evidence on take up and selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 425-450.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:425-450
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.07.020
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    Cited by:

    1. Carolina Laureti & Alain De Janvry & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2017. "Flexible Microfinance Products for Financial Management by the Poor: Evidence from SafeSave," Working Papers CEB 17-036, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    O12; O16; D03; Microfinance; Adverse selection; Repayment flexibility;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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