Microfinance and Household Poverty Reduction: New evidence from India
Summary The objective of the present study is to examine whether household access to microfinance reduces poverty. Using national household data from India, treatment effects model is employed to estimate the poverty-reducing effects of Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) loans for productive purposes, such as investment in agriculture or non-farm businesses on household poverty levels. These models take into account the endogenous binary treatment effects and sample selection bias associated with access to MFIs. Despite some limitations, such as those arising from potential unobservable important determinants of access to MFIs, significant positive effect of MFI productive loans on multidimensional welfare indicator has been confirmed. The significance of "treatment effects" coefficients has been verified by both Tobit and Propensity Score Matching (PSM) models. In addition, we found that loans for productive purposes were more important for poverty reduction in rural than in urban areas. However in urban areas, simple access to MFIs has larger average poverty-reducing effects than the access to loans from MFIs for productive purposes. This leads to exploring service delivery opportunities that provide an additional avenue to monitor the usage of loans to enhance the outreach.
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