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Follow the Money: Methods for Identifying Consumption and Investment Responses to a Liquidity Shock


  • Dean Karlan

    () (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Adam Osman

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • Jonathan Zinman

    () (Dartmouth College)


Identifying the impacts of liquidity shocks on spending decisions is difficult methodologically but important for theory, practice, and policy. Using seven different methods on microenterprise loan applicants, we find striking results. Borrowers report uses of loan proceeds strategically, and more generally their reporting depends on elicitation method. Borrowers also interpret loan use questions differently than the key counterfactual: spending that would not have occurred sans loan. We identify the counterfactual using random assignment of loan approvals and short-run follow-up elicitation of major household and business cash outflows, and estimate that about 100% of loan-financed spending is on business inventory.

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  • Dean Karlan & Adam Osman & Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Follow the Money: Methods for Identifying Consumption and Investment Responses to a Liquidity Shock," Working Papers 1034, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  • Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:1034

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Angelucci, Manuela & Karlan, Dean & Zinman, Jonathan, 2013. "Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco," Working Papers 117, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    2. Jaikishan Desai & Kristin Johnson & Alessandro Tarozzi, 2013. "On the Impact of Microcredit: Evidence from a Randomized Intervention in Rural Ethiopia," Working Papers 741, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    3. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi, 2011. "House Prices, Home Equity-Based Borrowing, and the US Household Leverage Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2132-2156, August.
    4. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilova & Jonathan Morduch, 2012. "Behavioral Foundations of Microcredit: Experimental and Survey Evidence from Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1118-1139, April.
    5. Blattman, Christopher & Fiala, Nathan & Martinez, Sebastian, 2011. "Employment generation in rural Africa : mid-term results from an experimental evaluation of the Youth Opportunities Program in Northern Uganda," Social Protection and Labor Policy and Technical Notes 66523, The World Bank.
    6. Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Heike Harmgart & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Microfinance, Poverty and Education," IFS Working Papers W12/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    7. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2009. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(1), pages 423-423.
    8. Gauti B. Eggertsson & Paul Krugman, 2012. "Debt, Deleveraging, and the Liquidity Trap: A Fisher-Minsky-Koo Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(3), pages 1469-1513.
    9. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
    10. Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Emla Fitzsimons & Heike Harmgart, 2011. "Group lending or individual lending? Evidence from a randomised field experiment in Mongolia," IFS Working Papers W11/20, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    11. Manuela Angelucci, Dean Karlan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Win Some Lose Some? Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco-Working Paper 330," Working Papers 330, Center for Global Development.
    12. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Cynthia Kinnan, 2015. "The Miracle of Microfinance? Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 22-53, January.
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    1. repec:sip:dpaper:15-010 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Groh, Matthew & McKenzie, David, 2016. "Macroinsurance for microenterprises: A randomized experiment in post-revolution Egypt," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 13-25.

    More about this item


    loan use; consumption; investment; liquidity constraint; liquidity shock; fungibility; microcredit; microenterprise;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D22 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Empirical Analysis
    • D92 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Intertemporal Firm Choice, Investment, Capacity, and Financing
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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