Economic theory and recent empirical evidence suggest that access to savings, payment and credit services can play a key role in poverty alleviation. Despite this, significant financial exclusion persists across sub-Saharan Africa. By pooling eleven nationally representative surveys, this paper examines the role of individual, geographic and national characteristics in influencing the use of formal financial services. While evidence is found for the importance of an individual's income, education, psychometric perspective and proximity to services in the likelihood of having personal access to financial services, cross-country differences also play a significant role. Although financial access is likely to have a slow-burning effect on the household's welfare, a novel instrument, level of trust in banks, helps identify a causal role for use of financial services in influencing an individual's income.
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