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Empowering Women with Micro Finance: Evidence from Bangladesh


  • Pitt, Mark M
  • Khandker, Shahidur R
  • Cartwright, Jennifer


This article examines the effects of men's and women's participation in micro credit programs on various indicators of women's empowerment using data from a special survey carried out in rural Bangladesh. These credit programs are well suited to studying how gender-specific resources alter intrahousehold allocations because they induce differential participation by gender through the requirement that only one adult member per household can participate in any micro credit program. Empowerment is formalized as an unobserved latent variable reflecting common components of qualitative responses to a large set of questions pertaining to women's autonomy and decision-making power. The empirical methods are attentive to various sources of endogeneity, and the results are consistent with the view that women's participation in micro credit programs helps to increase women's empowerment. The effects of male credit on women's empowerment were generally negative.

Suggested Citation

  • Pitt, Mark M & Khandker, Shahidur R & Cartwright, Jennifer, 2006. "Empowering Women with Micro Finance: Evidence from Bangladesh," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 791-831, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:y:2006:v:54:i:4:p:791-831

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mark Pin & Shahidur Khandker & Signe-Mary Mckernan & M. Latif, 1999. "Credit programs for the poor and reproductive behavior in low-income countries: Are the reported causal relationships the result of heterogeneity bias?," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 36(1), pages 1-21, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Orso, Cristina, 2011. "Microcredit and poverty. An overview of the principal statistical methods used to measure the program net impacts," POLIS Working Papers 154, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    2. Ngo, Thi Minh-Phuong & Wahhaj, Zaki, 2012. "Microfinance and gender empowerment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 99(1), pages 1-12.
    3. Swamy, Vighneswara, 2014. "Financial Inclusion, Gender Dimension, and Economic Impact on Poor Households," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 1-15.
    4. Angel-Urdinola, Diego F. & Semlali, Amina & Brodmann, Stefanie, 2010. "Non-public provision of active labor market programs in Arab- Mediterranean countries : an inventory of youth programs," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 55673, The World Bank.
    5. 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.
    6. Schicks, Jessica, 2014. "Over-Indebtedness in Microfinance – An Empirical Analysis of Related Factors on the Borrower Level," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 301-324.
    7. M. Najeeb Shafiq, 2009. "A reversal of educational fortune? Educational gender gaps in Bangladesh," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 137-155.
    8. Maria Porter, 2016. "Effects of microcredit and other loans on female empowerment in Bangladesh: the borrower's gender influences intra-household resource allocation," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(2), pages 235-245, March.
    9. Barr, Abigail & Dekker, Marleen & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2012. "Bridging the Gender Divide: An Experimental Analysis of Group Formation in African Villages," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(10), pages 2063-2077.
    10. Ashraf, Nava & Karlan, Dean & Yin, Wesley, 2010. "Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 333-344, March.
    11. Helen Shahriari & Alexander M. Danzer & Renee Giovarelli & Asyl Undeland, 2009. "Improving Women’s Access to Land and Financial Resources in Tajikistan," World Bank Other Operational Studies 25981, The World Bank.
    12. Menon, Nidhiya & van der Meulen Rodgers, Yana & Nguyen, Huong, 2014. "Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 18-31.
    13. Masakure, Oliver & Cranfield, John & Henson, Spencer, 2008. "The Financial Performance of Non-farm Microenterprises in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2733-2762, December.
    14. Garikipati, Supriya, 2008. "The Impact of Lending to Women on Household Vulnerability and Women's Empowerment: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(12), pages 2620-2642, December.
    15. Elsayed, Ahmed & Roushdy, Rania, 2017. "Empowering Women under Social Constraints: Evidence from a Field Intervention in Rural Egypt," IZA Discussion Papers 11240, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. 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.
    17. Chaudhuri, Sanjukta, 2010. "Women's Empowerment in South Asia and Southeast Asia: A Comparative Analysis," MPRA Paper 19686, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    18. Dieudonné Bleossi Dahoun & Olivier Manlan & Cosme Vodonou & Saint-Martin Mongan & Damien Mededji & Janvier P. Alofa, 2013. "Microcrédit, pauvreté et autonomisation des femmes au Bénin," Working Papers PMMA 2013-13, PEP-PMMA.
    19. Mohammad Samiul Islam, 2014. "Women’s Empowerment in Bangladesh: A Case Study of Two NGOs," Bangladesh Development Research Working Paper Series (BDRWPS) BDRWPS No. 23, Bangladesh Development Research Center (BDRC).
    20. Chin, Yoo-Mi, 2012. "Credit Program Participation and Decline in Violence: Does Self-Selection Matter?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(8), pages 1690-1699.
    21. Das, Priyam, 2014. "Women’s Participation in Community-Level Water Governance in Urban India: The Gap Between Motivation and Ability," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 206-218.
    22. World Bank, 2012. "A Gender (R)evolution in the Making? Expanding Women's Economic Opportunities in Central America : A Decade in Review," World Bank Other Operational Studies 12468, The World Bank.
    23. Swaminathan, Hema & Salcedo Du Bois, Rodrigo & Findeis, Jill L., 2010. "Impact of Access to Credit on Labor Allocation Patterns in Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 555-566, April.
    24. Duvendack, Maren & Palmer-Jones, Richard, 2011. "The microfinance of reproduction and the reproduction of microfinance: understanding the connections between microfinance, empowerment, contraception and fertility in Bangladesh in the 1990s," MPRA Paper 32384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    25. B, Ranjula & Wallentin, Fan Yang, 2008. "Economic or Non-Economic Factors – What Empowers Women?," Working Paper Series 2008:11, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.

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