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Pretending to Be Poor: Borrowing to Escape Forced Solidarity in Cameroon

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  • Jean-Marie Baland
  • Catherine Guirkinger
  • Charlotte Mali

Abstract

From field observations of credit cooperatives in Cameroon, we find that 19% of the loans taken are fully collateralized by savings held in the same institutions. This behavior is costly to the borrower, as it represents a net interest payment of about 24% per year. While traditional explanations may partly explain this behavior, interviews with members of the cooperatives suggest the following new rationale: members resort to borrowing to signal to friends and relatives that they are poor and do not have savings available. By doing so, they can avoid requests for financial help. We develop a signaling model to analyze the conditions under which this behavior is an equilibrium outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Jean-Marie Baland & Catherine Guirkinger & Charlotte Mali, 2011. "Pretending to Be Poor: Borrowing to Escape Forced Solidarity in Cameroon," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 1-16.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/661220
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2002. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(1), pages 149-185.
    2. Ross Levine, 1997. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Views and Agenda," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 688-726, June.
    3. Irina A. Telyukova & Randall Wright, 2008. "A Model of Money and Credit, with Application to the Credit Card Debt Puzzle," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 75(2), pages 629-647.
    4. Basu, Karna, 2009. "A behavioral model of simultaneous borrowing and saving," MPRA Paper 20442, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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