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Self-Help Groups and Mutual Assistance: Evidence from Urban Kenya

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  • Marcel Fafchamps
  • Eliana La Ferrara

Abstract

This article examines the incomes of individuals who have joined self-help groups in poor neighborhoods of Nairobi. Self-help groups are often advocated as a way of facilitating income pooling. We find that incomes are indeed more correlated among individuals in the same group than among individuals who belong to different groups. Using an original methodology, we test whether this correlation is due to self-selection of similar individuals into the same groups. We find that this correlation is not driven by positive assortative matching. If anything, selection works in the opposite direction: incomes from group activities would be more correlated if individuals were matched at random. These findings are consistent with the idea that self-help groups play a mutual assistance role.

Suggested Citation

  • Marcel Fafchamps & Eliana La Ferrara, 2012. "Self-Help Groups and Mutual Assistance: Evidence from Urban Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(4), pages 707-733.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/665600
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. De Weerdt, Joachim & Dercon, Stefan, 2006. "Risk-sharing networks and insurance against illness," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 337-356, December.
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    3. La Ferrara, Eliana, 2002. "Inequality and group participation: theory and evidence from rural Tanzania," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(2), pages 235-273, August.
    4. Siwan Anderson & Jean-Marie Baland, 2002. "The Economics of Roscas and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 963-995.
    5. Dercon, Stefan & De Weerdt, Joachim & Bold, Tessa & Pankhurst, Alula, 2006. "Group-based funeral insurance in Ethiopia and Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 685-703, April.
    6. Fafchamps, Marcel & Lund, Susan, 2003. "Risk-sharing networks in rural Philippines," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 261-287, August.
    7. DeanS. Karlan, 2007. "Social connections and group banking," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages 52-84, February.
    8. Dasgupta, Partha, 1995. "An Inquiry into Well-Being and Destitution," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288350.
    9. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gubert, Flore, 2007. "The formation of risk sharing networks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 326-350, July.
    10. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4392 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Giorgio Topa, 2001. "Social Interactions, Local Spillovers and Unemployment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 261-295.
    12. Arcand, Jean-Louis & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Matching in community-based organizations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 203-219.
    13. Miguel, Edward & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2005. "Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2325-2368, December.
    14. Abigail Barr & Marleen Dekker & Marcel Fafchamps, 2008. "Risk Sharing Relations and Enforcement Mechanisms," CSAE Working Paper Series 2008-14, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    15. Conley, T. G., 1999. "GMM estimation with cross sectional dependence," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 92(1), pages 1-45, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Straub, Stéphane & Flochel, Thomas, 2016. "Public Procurement and Rent-Seeking: The Case of Paraguay," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 395-407.
    2. Bennett, Rachel & Chepngeno-Langat, Gloria & Evandrou, Maria & Falkingham, Jane, 2015. "Resilience in the face of post-election violence in Kenya: The mediating role of social networks on wellbeing among older people in the Korogocho informal settlement, Nairobi," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 159-167.
    3. Parantap Basu & Sigit Sulistiyo Wibowo, 2015. "An Empirical Investigation of Risk Sharing among Indonesian Households," CEGAP Working Papers 2015_02, Durham University Business School.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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