IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts

  • Dean Karlan


    (Economic Growth Center, Yale University)

  • Jonathan Zinman


    (Dartmouth College)

Registered author(s):

    Expanding credit access is a key ingredient of development strategies worldwide. Microfinance practitioners, policymakers, and donors have ambitious goals for expanding access, and seek efficient methods for implementing and evaluating expansion. There is less consensus on the role of consumer credit in expansion initiatives. Some microfinance institutions are moving beyond entrepreneurial credit and offering consumer loans. But many practitioners and policymakers are skeptical about “unproductive” lending. These concerns are fueled by academic work highlighting behavioral biases that may induce consumers to over borrow. We estimate the impacts of a consumer credit supply expansion using a field experiment and follow-up data collection. A South African lender relaxed its risk assessment criteria by encouraging its loan officers to approve randomly selected marginal rejected applications. We estimate the resulting impacts using new survey data on applicant households and administrative data on loan repayment, as well as public credit reports one and two years later. We find that the marginal loans produced significant benefits for borrowers across a wide range economic and well-being outcomes. We also find some evidence that the marginal loans were profitable for the Lender. The results suggest that consumer credit expansions can be welfare-improving.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Economic Growth Center, Yale University in its series Working Papers with number 956.

    in new window

    Length: 45 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:956
    Contact details of provider: Postal: PO Box 8269, New Haven CT 06520-8269
    Phone: (203) 432-3610
    Fax: (203) 432-3898
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Ross Levine, 1997. "Financial Development and Economic Growth: Views and Agenda," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 35(2), pages 688-726, June.
    2. David Laibson & Andrea Repetto & Jeremy Tobacman, 2007. "Estimating Discount Functions with Consumption Choices over the Lifecycle," NBER Working Papers 13314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Angus Deaton & Salman Zaidi, 1999. "Guidelines for Constructing Consumption Aggregates For Welfare Analysis," Working Papers 217, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
    4. Beatriz Armendariz & Jonathan Morduch, 2007. "The Economics of Microfinance," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262512017, June.
    5. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6182, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. 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.
    7. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
    8. Marianne Bertrand & Sendhil Mullainathan & Dean Karlan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2009. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," Working Papers 968, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    9. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
    10. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
    11. Joseph P. Kaboski & Robert M. Townsend, 2005. "Policies and Impact: An Analysis of Village-Level Microfinance Institutions," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(1), pages 1-50, 03.
    12. Allen, Linda & DeLong, Gayle & Saunders, Anthony, 2004. "Issues in the credit risk modeling of retail markets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 727-752, April.
    13. Patrick Honohan, 2004. "Financial development, growth, and poverty: how close are the links?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3203, The World Bank.
    14. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker & Omar Haider Chowdhury & Daniel L. Millimet, 1998. "Credit Programs for the Poor and the Nutritional Status of Children in Rural Bangladesh," Working Papers 98-4, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 16 Jan 1998.
    15. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Credit Elasticities in Less-Developed Economies: Implications for Microfinance," CEPR Discussion Papers 6071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    16. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker & Omar Haider Chowdhury & Daniel L. Millimet, 2003. "Credit Programs for the Poor And the Health Status of Children in Rural Bangladesh," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(1), pages 87-118, February.
    17. 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..
    18. Morduch, Jonathan, 2000. "The Microfinance Schism," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 617-629, April.
    19. Pitt, Mark M. & Khandker, Shahidur R. & Cartwright, Jennifer, 2003. "Does micro-credit empower women : evidence from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2998, The World Bank.
    20. Ashraf, Nava & Karlan, Dean & Yin, Wesley, 2010. "Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 333-344, March.
    21. Coleman, Brett E., 1999. "The impact of group lending in Northeast Thailand," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 105-141, October.
    22. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther, 2004. "Do Firms Want to Borrow More? Testing Credit Constraints Using a Directed Lending Program," CEPR Discussion Papers 4681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    23. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
    24. Bell, Clive, 1990. "Interactions between Institutional and Informal Credit Agencies in Rural India," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 297-327, September.
    25. Signe-Mary McKernan, 2002. "The Impact Of Microcredit Programs On Self-Employment Profits: Do Noncredit Program Aspects Matter?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 93-115, February.
    26. Nidhiya Menon, 2004. "Consumption Smoothing in Micro Credit Programs," Development and Comp Systems 0403005, EconWPA.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:egc:wpaper:956. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Louise Danishevsky)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.