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Do Subsidies Enhance or Erode the Cost Efficiency of Microfinance? Evidence from MFI Worldwide Micro Data

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  • Mieno, Fumiharu
  • Kai, Hisako

Abstract

A recent issue in the microfinance literature is whether microfinance institutions (MFIs) are financially sustainable without a subsidy as a prerequisite for competition policy or commercialization processes. Although some recent studies have proposed relevant theoretical frameworks, empirical analyses are scarce. Using financial data for MFIs across a panel of 1791 observations for 2003-2006, we estimate a cost function for the MFIs and a measure of inefficiency using the stochastic frontier cost approach, and then examine the effects of subsidies, operating age and other possible factors as determinants of efficiency. We find that subsidies are generally not an impediment to cost efficiency; instead, they are generally utilized to improve cost efficiency. We also find that the effect of a subsidy on efficiency is larger for younger MFIs, suggesting that subsidies for these institutions are effectively utilized for intensifying initial technology investment or human resource development. The findings are consistent with the arguments that stress the importance of subsidies for the initial stage of development of MFIs, and partially contradictory to the claims that the subsidies generally erode MFIs’ financial sustainability.

Suggested Citation

  • Mieno, Fumiharu & Kai, Hisako, 2012. "Do Subsidies Enhance or Erode the Cost Efficiency of Microfinance? Evidence from MFI Worldwide Micro Data," CEI Working Paper Series 2011-14, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:hit:hitcei:2011-14
    Note: March 2012
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    File URL: http://hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/28501/1/wp2011-14.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hisako Kai & Shigeyuki Hamori, 2009. "Globalization, financial depth, and inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 29(3), pages 2025-2037.
    2. Hudon, Marek & Traca, Daniel, 2011. "On the Efficiency Effects of Subsidies in Microfinance: An Empirical Inquiry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 966-973, June.
    3. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
    4. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
    5. Gutiérrez-Nieto, Begoña & Serrano-Cinca, Carlos & Mar Molinero, Cecilio, 2007. "Microfinance institutions and efficiency," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 131-142, April.
    6. Conning, Jonathan, 1999. "Outreach, sustainability and leverage in monitored and peer-monitored lending," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 51-77, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Renaud Bourlès & Anastasia Cozarenco, 2014. "State intervention and the microcredit market: the role of business development services," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 931-944, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    microfinance; financial institutions; frontier cost function approach;

    JEL classification:

    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • R51 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Regional Government Analysis - - - Finance in Urban and Rural Economies

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