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Liability Structure in Small-Scale Finance: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Fenella Carpena

    ()

    (UC Berkeley)

  • Shawn Cole

    ()

    (Harvard Business School, Finance Unit)

  • Jeremy Shapiro

    ()

    (Yale University)

  • Bilal Zia

    ()

    (World Bank)

Microfinance, the provision of small individual and business loans, has witnessed dramatic growth, reaching over 150 million borrowers worldwide. Much of its success has been attributed to overcoming the challenges of information asymmetries in uncollateralized lending. Yet, very little is known about the optimal contract structure of such loans?there is substantial variation across lenders, even within a particular setting. This paper exploits a plausibly exogenous change in the liability structure offered by a microfinance program in India, which shifted from individual to group liability lending. We find evidence that the lending model matters: for the same borrower, required monthly loan installments are 11 percent less likely to be missed under the group liability setting, relative to individual liability. In addition, compulsory savings deposits are 20 percent less likely to be missed under group liability contracts.

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Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 13-018.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:13-018
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  1. Feigenberg, Benjamin & Field, Erica Marie & Pande, Rohini, 2010. "Building Social Capital Through Microfinance," Scholarly Articles 4449105, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Armendariz de Aghion, Beatriz, 1999. "On the design of a credit agreement with peer monitoring," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 79-104, October.
  3. 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," Working Papers 136, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  4. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Financial Dependence and Growth," CRSP working papers 344, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  5. Christian Ahlin & Robert Townsend, 2002. "Using Repayment Data to Test Across Models of Joint Liability Lending," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0227, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  6. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2007. "Reaching out: Access to and use of banking services across countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 234-266, July.
  7. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Besley, Timothy & Guinnane, Timothy W, 1994. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: The Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 491-515, May.
  8. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  9. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  10. Sharma, Manohar & Zeller, Manfred, 1997. "Repayment performance in group-based credit programs in Bangladesh: An empirical analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(10), pages 1731-1742, October.
  11. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Group lending, repayment incentives and social collateral," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-18, February.
  12. 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.
  13. Ambec, Stefan & Treich, Nicolas, 2007. "Roscas as financial agreements to cope with self-control problems," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 120-137, January.
  14. Karlan, Dean & Gine, Xavier, 2009. "Group versus Individual Liability: Long Term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups," Working Papers 61, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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