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Contract Structure, Risk Sharing and Investment Choice

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  • Greg Fischer

Abstract

Few microfinance-funded businesses grow beyond subsistence entrepreneurship. This paper considers one possible explanation: that the structure of existing microfinance contracts may discourage risky but high-expected return investments. To explore this possibility, I develop a theory that unifies models of investment choice, informal risk sharing, and formal financial contracts. I then test the predictions of this theory using a series of experiments with clients of a large microfinance institution in India. The experiments confirm the theoretical predictions that joint liability creates two inefficiencies. First, borrowers free-ride on their partners, making risky investments without compensating partners for this risk. Second, the addition of peer-monitoring overcompensates, leading to sharp reductions in risk-taking and profitability. Equity-like financing, in which partners share both the benefits and risks of more profitable projects, overcomes both of these inefficiencies and merits further testing in the field.

Suggested Citation

  • Greg Fischer, 2011. "Contract Structure, Risk Sharing and Investment Choice," STICERD - Economic Organisation and Public Policy Discussion Papers Series 023, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stieop:023
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/eopp/eopp23.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Xavier Gine & Dean Karlan, 2006. "Group versus Individual Liability: A Field Experiment in the Philippines," Working Papers 940, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    2. Xavier Giné & Pamela Jakiela & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "Microfinance Games," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 60-95, July.
    3. Armendariz de Aghion, Beatriz, 1999. "On the design of a credit agreement with peer monitoring," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 79-104, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Farah Said, 2016. "Access to Finance and Agency: An Overview of the Constraints to Female-Run Enterprises," Lahore Journal of Economics, Department of Economics, The Lahore School of Economics, vol. 21(Special E), pages 331-349, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    investment choice; informal insurance; risk sharing; contract design; microfinance; experiment.;

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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