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Repayment incentives and the distribution of gains from group lending

  • Baland, Jean-Marie
  • Somanathan, Rohini
  • Wahhaj, Zaki

Group loans with joint liability have been a distinguishing feature of many microfinance programs. While such lending has benefitted millions of borrowers, major lending institutions have acknowledged their limited impact among the very poor and have recently favored individual contracts. This paper attempts to understand these empirical patterns using a model in which there is a single investment project and access to credit is limited by weak repayment incentives. We show that in the absence of large social sanctions, the poorest borrowers are offered individual and not group contracts. When both types of contracts are feasible, the relative gains from group loans are shown to be decreasing in loan size. We compare the role of bank enforcement with social sanctions and find that bank enforcement is more effective in increasing outreach while social sanctions raise the welfare of infra-marginal borrowers. Finally, we explore the welfare effects of group size and find that those requiring small loans are better served by larger groups but group size effects are, in general, ambiguous.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8197.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8197
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  1. de Quidt, Jonathan & Fetzer, Thiemo & Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2012. "Market Structure and Borrower Welfare in Microfinance," CEPR Discussion Papers 9165, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  3. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj�str�m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234.
  4. Jonathan Morduch, 1998. "Does Microfinance Really Help the Poor? New Evidence from Flagship Programs in Bangladesh," Working Papers 198, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
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  13. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  14. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Guinnane, Timothy W., 1999. "The economics of lending with joint liability: theory and practice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 195-228, October.
  15. Klaus Abbink & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2004. "Group Size and Social Ties in Microfinance Institutions," Econometric Society 2004 Far Eastern Meetings 404, Econometric Society.
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  17. Dewan, Isha & Somanathan, Rohini, 2011. "The application of nonparametric tests to poverty targeting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 58-61, October.
  18. Bhole, Bharat & Ogden, Sean, 2010. "Group lending and individual lending with strategic default," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(2), pages 348-363, March.
  19. Xavier Giné & Dean Karlan, 2009. "Group versus Individual Liability: Long Term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups," Working Papers 970, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  20. Alessandra Cassar & Luke Crowley & Bruce Wydick, 2007. "The effect of social capital on group loan repayment: evidence from field experiments," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages F85-F106, 02.
  21. Karlan, Dean & Gine, Xavier, 2009. "Group versus Individual Liability: Long Term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups," Working Papers 61, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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