IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Matching for Credit: Risk and Diversification in Thai Microcredit Groups


  • Christian Ahlin


How has the microcredit movement managed to push financial frontiers? In a context in which borrowers vary in unobservable risk, Ghatak (1999, 2000) shows that group-based, joint liability contracts price for risk more accurately than individual contracts, provided that borrowers match homogeneously by risk-type. This more accurate risk-pricing can attract safe borrowers and rouse an otherwise dormant credit market. We extend the theory to include correlated risk, and show that borrowers will anti-diversify risk within groups, in order to lower chances of facing liability for group members. We directly test risk-matching and intra-group diversification of risk using data on Thai microcredit borrowing groups. We propose a non-parametric univariate methodology for assessing homogeneity of matching; structural multivariate analysis is carried out using Fox's (2008) matching maximum score estimator. We find evidence of a) homogeneous sorting by risk and b) risk anti-diversification within groups, though not along occupational lines. Thus there is evidence that group lending improves risk-pricing in this context and is part of the explanation of the rise in financial intermediation among the poor. However, the anti-diversification results reveal a potentially negative aspect of voluntary group formation and point to limitations of microcredit groups as risk-sharing mechanisms.[Working Paper No. 251]

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Ahlin, 2010. "Matching for Credit: Risk and Diversification in Thai Microcredit Groups," Working Papers id:2588, eSocialSciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2588 Note: Institutional Papers

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ahlin, Christian & Townsend, Robert M., 2007. "Selection into and across credit contracts: Theory and field research," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 136(2), pages 665-698, February.
    2. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 2000. "Screening by the Company You Keep: Joint Liability Lending and the Peer Selection Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 601-631, July.
    3. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 1999. "Group lending, local information and peer selection," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 27-50, October.
    4. de Aghion, Beatriz Armendariz & Gollier, Christian, 2000. "Peer Group Formation in an Adverse Selection Model," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(465), pages 632-643, July.
    5. 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.
    6. Christian Ahlin & RobertM. Townsend, 2007. "Using Repayment Data to Test Across Models of Joint Liability Lending," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages 11-51, February.
    7. Fafchamps, Marcel & Gubert, Flore, 2007. "The formation of risk sharing networks," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 326-350, July.
    8. repec:dau:papers:123456789/4392 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Jason Abrevaya & Jian Huang, 2005. "On the Bootstrap of the Maximum Score Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(4), pages 1175-1204, July.
    10. Jeremy T. Fox, 2008. "Estimating Matching Games with Transfers," NBER Working Papers 14382, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Ahlin, Christian & Jiang, Neville, 2008. "Can micro-credit bring development?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 86(1), pages 1-21, April.
    12. Shubhashis Gangopadhyay & Maitreesh Ghatak & Robert Lensink, 2005. "Joint Liability Lending and the Peer Selection Effect," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1005-1015, October.
    13. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Delpierre, Matthieu & Verheyden, Bertrand & Weynants, Stéphanie, 2016. "Is informal risk-sharing less effective for the poor? Risk externalities and moral hazard in mutual insurance," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 282-297.

    More about this item


    microcredit; matching; credit markets; adverse selection; risk-sharing;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ess:wpaper:id:2588. 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: (Padma Prakash). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.