Are Microcredit Participants in Bangladesh Trapped in Poverty and Debt?
This paper addresses whether microcredit participants in Bangladesh are trapped in poverty and debt, as many critics have argued in recent years. Analysis of data from a long panel survey over a 20-year period confirms this is not the case, although numerous participants have been with microcredit programs for many years. The results of the analysis suggest that participants derive a variety of benefits from microcredit: It helps them to earn income and consume more, accumulate assets, invest in children’s schooling, and be lifted out of poverty. This is not to say that non-participants have failed to progress over the same period. Both participants and non-participants have gained as the economy has grown; however, the rates of poverty reduction have been higher for participants. Testing the net effect of microcredit programs requires applying an econometric method that controls for why some households participated and others did not, conditional on their initial characteristics. In addition, the method must control for time-varying, unobserved heterogeneity that affects everyone over time, albeit in possibly different ways. The paper’s econometric estimates show significant welfare gains resulting from microcredit participation, especially for women. They also show that the accrued benefits of borrowing outweigh accumulated debt. As a result, households’ net worth has increased, and both poverty and the debt-asset ratio have declined.
References listed on IDEAS
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- Shahidur R. Khandker & Hussain A. Samad, 2013. "Microfinance Growth and Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh: What Does the Longitudinal Data Say?," Working Papers 16, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
- Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Heike Harmgart & Costas Meghir, 2012. "Microfinance, Poverty and Education," IFS Working Papers W12/15, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
- Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker & Omar Haider Chowdhury & Daniel L. Millimet, 1998. "Credit Programs for the Poor and the Nutritional Status of Children in Rural Bangladesh," Working Papers 98-4, Brown University, Department of Economics, revised 16 Jan 1998.
- Asadul Islam, 2011.
"Medium- and Long-Term Participation in Microcredit: An Evaluation Using a New Panel Dataset from Bangladesh,"
American Journal of Agricultural Economics,
Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(3), pages 843-862.
- Islam, Asadul, 2010. "Medium and Long-Term Participation in Microcredit: An Evaluation Using a New Panel Dataset from Bangladesh," MPRA Paper 24950, University Library of Munich, Germany.
- Boonperm, Jirawan & Haughton, Jonathan & Khandker, Shahidur R., 2009. "Does the village fund matter in Thailand ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5011, The World Bank.
- Kevane, Michael & Wydick, Bruce, 2001. "Microenterprise Lending to Female Entrepreneurs: Sacrificing Economic Growth for Poverty Alleviation?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 29(7), pages 1225-1236, July. Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)
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