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Microfinance and Poverty—A Macro Perspective


  • Imai, Katsushi S.
  • Gaiha, Raghav
  • Thapa, Ganesh
  • Annim, Samuel Kobina


We test the hypothesis that microfinance reduces poverty at the macro level using cross-country and panel data which are constructed by the Microfinance Information Exchange data on Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and the World Bank data. Taking account of the endogeneity associated with MFIs’ loans, we show that a country with higher MFIs’ gross loan portfolio per capita tends to have lower levels of poverty indices. Contrary to recent micro evidence, our results suggest that microfinance significantly reduces poverty at macro level and thus reinforce the case for channeling funds from development finance institutions and governments of developing countries into MFIs.

Suggested Citation

  • Imai, Katsushi S. & Gaiha, Raghav & Thapa, Ganesh & Annim, Samuel Kobina, 2012. "Microfinance and Poverty—A Macro Perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1675-1689.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:40:y:2012:i:8:p:1675-1689
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2012.04.013

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2010. "Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts," Review of Financial Studies, Society for Financial Studies, vol. 23(1), pages 433-464, January.
    2. Katsushi S. Imai & MD. Shafiul Azam, 2011. "Does Microfinance Reduce Poverty in Bangladesh? New Evidence from Household Panel Data," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(5), pages 633-653, October.
    3. Ahlin, Christian & Lin, Jocelyn & Maio, Michael, 2011. "Where does microfinance flourish? Microfinance institution performance in macroeconomic context," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 105-120, July.
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    5. Feigenberg, Benjamin & Field, Erica M. & Pande, Rohini, 2010. "Building Social Capital through Microfinance," Working Paper Series rwp10-019, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    6. Cull, Robert & Demirgüç-Kunt, Asli & Morduch, Jonathan, 2011. "Does Regulatory Supervision Curtail Microfinance Profitability and Outreach?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 949-965, June.
    7. Imai, Katsushi S. & Arun, Thankom & Annim, Samuel Kobina, 2010. "Microfinance and Household Poverty Reduction: New Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 1760-1774, December.
    8. Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen & Prem Sangraula, 2009. "Dollar a Day Revisited," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(2), pages 163-184, June.
    9. Robert Cull & Asli Demirguç-Kunt & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "Financial performance and outreach: a global analysis of leading microbanks," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages 107-133, February.
    10. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
    11. Shahidur R. Khandker, 2005. "Microfinance and Poverty: Evidence Using Panel Data from Bangladesh," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 263-286.
    12. World Bank, 2011. "World Development Indicators 2011," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2315.
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    14. Katsushi Imai & Raghav Gaiha & Ganesh Thapa, 2010. "Is the Millennium Development Goal on Poverty Still Achievable? The Role of Institutions, Finance and Openness," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 309-337.
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    16. World Bank, 2010. "World Development Indicators 2010," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 4373.
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    Cited by:

    1. Katsushi S. Imai & Raghav Gaiha & Ganesh Thapa & Samuel Kobina Annim, 2013. "Financial Crisis In Asia: Its Genesis, Severity And Impact On Poverty And Hunger," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(8), pages 1105-1116, November.
    2. Rajbanshi, Ram & Huang, Meng & Wydick, Bruce, 2015. "Measuring Microfinance: Assessing the Conflict between Practitioners and Researchers with Evidence from Nepal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 68(C), pages 30-47.
    3. Cull, Robert & Navajas, Sergio & Nishida, Ippei & Zeiler, Renate, 2015. "A New Index of the Business Environment for Microfinance," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 357-388.
    4. Michael O. Harhay & Mary C. Smith Fawzi & Sacha Jeanneret & Damascène Ndayisaba & William Kibaalya & Emily A. Harrison & Dylan S. Small, 2017. "An assessment of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud poverty alleviation program in Rwanda and Uganda," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 62(2), pages 241-252, March.
    5. Wagner, Charlotte & Winkler, Adalbert, 2013. "The Vulnerability of Microfinance to Financial Turmoil – Evidence from the Global Financial Crisis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 71-90.
    6. Sefa K. Awaworyi, 2014. "The Impact of Microfinance Interventions: A Meta-analysis," Monash Economics Working Papers 03-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    7. Janda, Karel & Van Tran, Quang & Zetek, Pavel, 2014. "Influence of External Funding on Microfinance Performance," MPRA Paper 58170, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Périlleux, Anaïs & Szafarz, Ariane, 2015. "Women Leaders and Social Performance: Evidence from Financial Cooperatives in Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 437-452.
    9. repec:rss:jnljfe:v1i4p5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Janda, Karel & Tran, Quang & Zetek, Pavel, 2014. "Vliv externího financování na mikrofinanční rozvoj - makro perspektiva
      [Influence of external funding on microfinance performance - macro perspective]
      ," MPRA Paper 58166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Akotey, Joseph Oscar & Adjasi, Charles K.D., 2016. "Does Microcredit Increase Household Welfare in the Absence of Microinsurance?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 380-394.
    12. Janda, Karel & Zetek, Pavel, 2014. "The Impact of Public Spending on the Performance of Microfinance Institutions," MPRA Paper 55690, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Katsushi S. Imai & Raghav Gaiha & Ganesh Thapa & Samuel Kobina Annim & Aditi Gupta, 2012. "Financial Performance of Microfinance Institutions-A Macroeconomic and Institutional Perspective," Discussion Paper Series DP2012-04, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    14. Khan, Wajid & Sun, Shaorong & Khan, Ikramullah, 2015. "Sustainable Institutions or Sustainable Poverty Targeting: The Case of Microfinance," MPRA Paper 63587, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Shahidur R. Khandker & Hussain A. Samad, 2013. "Microfinance Growth and Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh: What Does the Longitudinal Data Say?," Working Papers 16, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
    16. Dan Brockington & Nicola Banks, 2014. "Exploring the Success of BRAC Tanzania’s Microcredit Programme," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 20214, BWPI, The University of Manchester.

    More about this item


    microfinance; poverty; loan portfolio; macro and global;

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • E44 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Financial Markets and the Macroeconomy
    • G01 - Financial Economics - - General - - - Financial Crises
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration


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