Credit rationing of rural households in China
Purpose - In the presence of credit rationing the poor are unable to exploit growth-promoting opportunities. Using data gathered from a household survey on North China Plain, the purpose of this paper is to find pervasive rationing in the highly regulated formal credit market in rural China. The subsidized credit policies favor local elites instead of the targeted poor strata and earmarked credit programs are less effective. By jointly estimating credit rationing in both the formal and informal sectors, this paper elaborates on the fragmented rural credit market in China where different borrower segments are systematically sorted out across different loan types. Non-targeted credit programs cannot address income redistribution or sustainable poverty reduction in the presence of such skewed equality and equity. Design/methodology/approach - The basis of this study is a multi-topic household survey data on rural households in the North China Plain, with 337 rural households being randomly sampled out of five purposely selected counties. The particular objectives are to identify the determinants of credit rationing in both formal and informal sectors, to show the extent of credit rationing by using Probit model, to explore the substitutability of institutional and informal lending by using bivariate probit specification. Findings - First, there exists pervasive rationing in the highly regulated formal credit market in rural China. Second, the subsidized credit policies favor local elites, instead of the targeted poor strata; and the earmarked credit programs are less effective. Third, informal credits, in a form of reciprocal arrangement, are weak substitutes for institutional loans. Different segments of borrowers are systematically sorted out across different loan types; the rural credit market is fragmented. Fourth, government-led credit programs are not effective in promoting agricultural investments; credits of rural non-farm activities facilitate agricultural transformation. Originality/value - Since 2004, the policymakers in China initiated a set of policies towards promoting agricultural and rural development to spur the rural economy and ease tensions in rural area. Credit policies, believed often to be efficient and guided tools to provide financing to investors, gained a great deal of appeal. Given the widely existing failure of government-driven rural credit programs in many other developing countries, how the interventions affect the rural economy in China should be investigated. However, little has been done to explore the interventions on smallholder farmers and the existing evidence is therefore pieced and anecdotal. This paper aims to fill that gap.
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Volume (Year): 70 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
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