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Elasticities of Demand for Consumer Credit

  • Dean Karlan


    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Jonathan Zinman


    (Dartmouth College)

Registered author(s):

    The price elasticity of demand for credit has major implications for macroeconomics, finance, and development. We present estimates of this parameter derived from a randomized trial. The experiment was implemented by a consumer microfinance lender in South Africa and identifies demand curves that, while downward-sloping with respect to price, are flatter than recent estimates in both developing and developed countries throughout most of a wide price range. However, demand becomes highly price sensitive at higher-than-normal rates. We discuss several interpretations of this kink and present some related evidence. We also find that loan size is far more responsive to changes in loan maturity than to changes in interest rate. This pattern is more pronounced among lower income individuals, a comparative static that has been observed in the United States as well and is consistent with liquidity constraints that decrease with income.

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    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 926.

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    Length: 42 pages
    Date of creation: Oct 2005
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:926
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    1. F. Thomas Juster & Robert P. Shay, 1964. "Consumer Sensitivity to Finance Rates: An Empirical and Analytical Investigation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number just64-2, December.
    2. Marianne Bertrand & Dean S. Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," Working Papers 918, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Orazio P. Attanasio & Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg & Ekaterini Kyriazidou, 2008. "Credit Constraints In The Market For Consumer Durables: Evidence From Micro Data On Car Loans," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 401-436, 05.
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    5. Dehejia, Rajeev & Montgomery, Heather & Morduch, Jonathan, 2012. "Do interest rates matter? Credit demand in the Dhaka slums," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 437-449.
    6. Anil K. Kashyap, 1991. "Sticky prices: new evidence from retail catalogs," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 91-26, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    7. Morduch, J., 1998. "The Microfinance Schism," Papers 626, Harvard - Institute for International Development.
    8. Bruce G. S. Hardie & Eric J. Johnson & Peter S. Fader, 1993. "Modeling Loss Aversion and Reference Dependence Effects on Brand Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 12(4), pages 378-394.
    9. Dean Karlan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman & Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2006. "What's psychology worth? A field experiment in the consumer credit market," Natural Field Experiments 00217, The Field Experiments Website.
    10. Martin Browning & Annamaria Lusardi, 1995. "Household Saving: Micro Theories and Micro Facts," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-02, McMaster University.
    11. Attanasio, Orazio P & Weber, Guglielmo, 1993. "Consumption Growth, the Interest Rate and Aggregation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 631-49, July.
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    13. Morwitz, Vicki G & Johnson, Eric J & Schmittlein, David C, 1993. " Does Measuring Intent Change Behavior?," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 46-61, June.
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    15. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1995. "Symposium on the Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 3-10, Fall.
    16. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2000. "The Power of Suggestion: Inertia in 401(k) Participation and Savings Behavior," NBER Working Papers 7682, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    18. Annette Vissing-Jorgensen, 2002. "Limited Asset Market Participation and the Elasticity of Intertemporal Substitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(4), pages 825-853, August.
    19. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
    20. Alessie, Rob & Hochguertel, Stefan & Weber, Guglielmo, 2001. "Consumer Credit: Evidence from Italian Micro Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 3071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Hall, Robert E, 1988. "Intertemporal Substitution in Consumption," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(2), pages 339-57, April.
    22. Beatriz Armendariz & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "The Economics of Microfinance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262512017, June.
    23. Richard Thaler, 1985. "Mental Accounting and Consumer Choice," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(3), pages 199-214.
    24. Dean Karlan & Xavier Gine & Jonathan Morduch & Pamela Jakiela, 2006. "Microfinance Games," Working Papers 936, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    25. Ausubel, Lawrence M, 1991. "The Failure of Competition in the Credit Card Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 50-81, March.
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