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Impact of seasonality-adjusted flexible microcredit on repayment and food consumption : experimental evidence from rural Bangladesh

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  • Shonchoy, Abu S.
  • Kurosaki, Takashi

Abstract

The mismatch between credit repayments and income seasonality poses a challenge for microfinance institutions (MFIs) working in developing countries. For instance, in northern Bangladesh, income and consumption downfalls during the lean season after the transplanting of major paddy crops are a serious threat to a household's economy. Poor landless agricultural wage laborers suffer the most owing to this seasonality as they face difficulties in smoothing their consumption. However, in designing microcredit products, MFIs do not usually provide flexibility or seasonal adjustment during the lean season. This is mainly because MFIs are afraid that such flexibility might break the repayment discipline of borrowers, resulting in higher default rates. We thus conducted a randomized controlled trial in 2011-12 in northern Bangladesh to empirically test whether seasonality-adjusted flexible microcredit leads to an increase in repayment problems for MFIs as well as whether it can increase and stabilize consumption of borrower households. Our results suggest no statistically discernible difference among the treatment arms in case of default, overdue amount, or repayment frequency. On the other hand, we find no positive impact of repayment flexibility on immediate food consumption during the period of seasonality, except for in-kind full moratorium treatment group. After a year of initial intervention, however, we see positive changes in food intake during the lean season. Thus, our preliminary results are in favor of seasonality-adjusted flexible microcredit.

Suggested Citation

  • Shonchoy, Abu S. & Kurosaki, Takashi, 2014. "Impact of seasonality-adjusted flexible microcredit on repayment and food consumption : experimental evidence from rural Bangladesh," IDE Discussion Papers 460, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
  • Handle: RePEc:jet:dpaper:dpaper460
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Khandker, Shahidur R., 2012. "Seasonality of income and poverty in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 244-256.
    2. M. M. Pitt & S. R. Khandker, 2002. "Credit Programmes for the Poor and Seasonality in Rural Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 39(2), pages 1-24.
    3. Shonchoy, Abu S., 2011. "Seasonal migration and micro-credit in the lean period : evidence from northwest Bangladesh," IDE Discussion Papers 294, Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization(JETRO).
    4. Florencia Devoto & Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & William Parienté & Vincent Pons, 2012. "Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 68-99.
    5. Masahiro Shoji, 2010. "Does Contingent Repayment in Microfinance Help the Poor During Natural Disasters?," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 191-210.
    6. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
    7. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
    8. Beatriz Armendáriz & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "The Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262014106, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carolina Laureti & Alain De Janvry & Elisabeth Sadoulet, 2017. "Flexible Microfinance Products for Financial Management by the Poor: Evidence from SafeSave," Working Papers CEB 17-036, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. repec:taf:jdevst:v:53:y:2017:i:4:p:530-547 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Kazushi Takahashi & Abu Shonchoy & Seiro Ito & Takashi Kurosaki, 2017. "How Does Contract Design Affect the Uptake of Microcredit among the Ultra-poor? Experimental Evidence from the River Islands of Northern Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 53(4), pages 530-547, April.
    4. Marc Labie & Carolina Laureti & Ariane Szafarz, 2016. "Discipline and Flexibility: A Behavioral Perspective on Product Design in Microfinance," Working Papers CEB 15-020, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bangladesh; Microfinance; Rural credit; Consumption; Microcredit; Default; Seasonality; Consumption Smoothing;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • 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

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