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The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence

  • David Roodman
  • Jonathan Morduch

We replicate and reanalyse the most influential study of microcredit impacts (M. M. Pitt & S. R. Khandker's, 'The impact of group-based credit on poor households in Bangladesh: Does the gender of participants matter?', published in the Journal of Political Economy, 106, 1998). That study was celebrated for showing that microcredit reduces poverty, a much hoped for possibility (though one not confirmed by recent randomised controlled trials). We show that the original results on poverty reduction disappear after dropping outliers, or when using a robust linear estimator. Using a new program for estimation of mixed process maximum likelihood models, we show how assumptions critical for the original analysis, such as error normality, are contradicted by the data. We conclude that questions about impact cannot be answered in these data.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/00220388.2013.858122
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Development Studies.

Volume (Year): 50 (2014)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 583-604

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:50:y:2014:i:4:p:583-604
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  1. Mark M. Pitt, 2012. "Gunfight at the Not OK Corral: Reply to ‘High Noon for Microfinance’," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(12), pages 1886-1891, December.
  2. Christopher F Baum & Mark E. Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2007. "Enhanced routines for instrumental variables/GMM estimation and testing," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 667, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 05 Sep 2007.
  3. Angelucci, Manuela & Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2013. "Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco," CEPR Discussion Papers 9506, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
  5. 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.
  6. B.D. McCullough & Kerry Anne McGeary & Teresa D. Harrison, 2008. "Do economics journal archives promote replicable research?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1406-1420, November.
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  11. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
  12. Kleibergen, F.R. & Paap, R., 2003. "Generalized Reduced Rank Tests using the Singular Value Decomposition," Econometric Institute Research Papers EI 2003-01, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Econometric Institute.
  13. Pitt, Mark M. & Khandker, Shahidur R., 2012. "Replicating replication : due diligence in Roodman and Morduch's replication of Pitt and Khandker (1998)," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6273, The World Bank.
  14. Maren Duvendack & Richard Palmer-Jones, 2012. "High Noon for Microfinance Impact Evaluations: Re-investigating the Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(12), pages 1864-1880, December.
  15. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  16. David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Experimental Evidence on Returns to Capital and Access to Finance in Mexico," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(3), pages 457-482, November.
  17. M. M. Pitt & S. R. Khandker, 2002. "Credit Programmes for the Poor and Seasonality in Rural Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 1-24.
  18. Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Emla Fitzsimons & Heike Harmgart, 2011. "Group lending or individual lending? Evidence from a randomised field experiment in Mongolia," Working Papers 136, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  19. James L. Heckman, 1999. "Causal Parameters and Policy Analysis in Economcs: A Twentieth Century Retrospective," NBER Working Papers 7333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Matthieu Chemin, 2008. "The Benefits and Costs of Microfinance: Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 463-484.
  21. B. D. McCullough & H. D. Vinod, 2003. "Verifying the Solution from a Nonlinear Solver: A Case Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 873-892, June.
  22. Manuela Angelucci & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco," Working Papers 1026, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
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