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Do Rural Banks Matter? Evidence from the Indian Social Banking Experiment

  • Robin Burgess
  • Rohini Pande

Lack of access to finance is often cited as a key reason why poor people remain poor. This paper uses data on the Indian rural branch expansion program to provide empirial evidence on this issue. Between 1977 and 1990, the Indian Central Bank mandated that a commercial bank can open a branch in a location with one or more bank branches only if it opens four in locations with no bank branches. We show that between 1977 and 1990 this rule caused banks to open relatively more rural branches in Indian states with lower initial financial development. The reverse is true outside this period. We exploit this fact to identify the impact of opening a rural bank on poverty and output. Our estimates suggest that the Indian rural branch expansion program significantly lowered rural poverty, and increased non-agricultural output.

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Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers with number 40.

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Date of creation: Aug 2003
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stidep:40
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  1. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 1998. "Land Reform, Poverty Reduction and Growth: Evidence from India," STICERD - Development Economics Papers - From 2008 this series has been superseded by Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers 13, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  2. Ross Levine & Sara Zervos, . "Stock markets, banks and economic growth ," CERF Discussion Paper Series 95-11, Economics and Finance Section, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University.
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  8. Robin Burgess & Rohini Pande, 2005. "Do Rural Banks Matter? Evidence from the Indian Social Banking Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 780-795, June.
  9. Eastwood, Robert & Kohli, Renu, 1997. "Directed credit and investment in small scale industry in India: evidence from firm-level data 1965-78," Discussion Papers in Economics 02/97, Department of Economics, University of Sussex.
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  12. Bencivenga, Valerie R & Smith, Bruce D, 1991. "Financial Intermediation and Endogenous Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 195-209, April.
  13. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1992. "Workfare versus Welfare Incentive Arguments for Work Requirements in Poverty-Alleviation Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(1), pages 249-61, March.
  14. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  15. Gaurav Datt & Martin Ravallion, 2002. "Is India's Economic Growth Leaving the Poor Behind?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(3), pages 89-108, Summer.
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  17. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Financial Dependence and Growth," CRSP working papers 344, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  18. Braverman, Avishay & Guasch, J. Luis, 1986. "Rural credit markets and institutions in developing countries: Lessons for policy analysis from practice and modern theory," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 14(10-11), pages 1253-1267.
  19. Binswanger, Hans & Khandker, Shahidur, 1992. "The impact of formal finance on the rural economy of India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 949, The World Bank.
  20. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
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  22. King, Robert G & Levine, Ross, 1993. "Finance and Growth: Schumpeter Might Be Right," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(3), pages 717-37, August.
  23. Esther Duflo, 2000. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," NBER Working Papers 7860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  24. Binswanger, Hans P. & Khandker, Shahidur R & Rosenzweig, Mark R., 1989. "How infrastructure and financial institutions affect agricultural output and investment in India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 163, The World Bank.
  25. Robin Burgess & Rohini Pande & Grace Wong, 2005. "Banking for the Poor: Evidence From India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 268-278, 04/05.
  26. Sapienza, Paola, 2004. "The effects of government ownership on bank lending," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 357-384, May.
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