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Microfinance games

  • Dean Karlan
  • Jonathan Morduch
  • Pamela Jakiela
  • Xavier Gine

Microfinance has been heralded as an effective way to address imperfections in credit markets. But from a theoretical perspective, the success of microfinance contracts has puzzling elements. In particular, the group-based mechanisms often employed are vulnerable to free-riding and collusion, although they can also reduce moral hazard and improve selection. The authors created an experimental economics laboratory in a large urban market in Lima, Peru and over seven months conducted 11 different games that allow them to unpack microfinance mechanisms in a systematic way. They find that risk-taking broadly conforms to predicted patterns, but that behavior is safer than optimal. The results help to explain why pioneering microfinance institutions have been moving away from group-based contracts.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Framed Field Experiments with number 00150.

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Date of creation: 2006
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Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00150
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  1. Simon Gachter & Ernst Fehr, 2000. "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 980-994, September.
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  19. 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.
  20. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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  24. Karlan, Dean & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," Working Papers 68, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  25. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 1999. "Group lending, local information and peer selection," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 27-50, October.
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  29. Alexander Tedeschi, Gwendolyn, 2006. "Here today, gone tomorrow: Can dynamic incentives make microfinance more flexible?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 84-105, June.
  30. Beatriz Armendáriz de Aghion & Jonathan Morduch, 2000. "Microfinance Beyond Group Lending," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(2), pages 401-420, July.
  31. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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  35. Laffont, Jean-Jacques & N'Guessan, Tchetche, 2000. "Group lending with adverse selection," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 773-784, May.
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