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Credit Market Consequences of Improved Personal Identification: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi


  • Xavier Giné
  • Jessica Goldberg
  • Dean Yang


We report the results of a randomized field experiment that examines the credit market impacts of improvements in a lender's ability to determine borrowers' identities. Improved personal identification enhances the credibility of a lender's dynamic repayment incentives by allowing it to withhold future loans from past defaulters and expand credit for good borrowers. The experimental context, rural Malawi, is characterized by an imperfect identification system. Consistent with a simple model of borrower heterogeneity and information asymmetries, fingerprinting led to substantially higher repayment rates for borrowers with the highest ex ante default risk, but had no effect for the rest of the borrowers. The change in repayment rates is driven by reductions in adverse selection (smaller loan sizes) and lower moral hazard (for example, less diversion of loan-financed fertilizer from its intended use on the cash crop).

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  • Xavier Giné & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2011. "Credit Market Consequences of Improved Personal Identification: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," NBER Working Papers 17449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17449
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Emla Fitzsimons & Bansi Malde & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2016. "Spillovers of Community-Based Health Interventions on Consumption Smoothing," Studies in Economics 1611, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    2. Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Silverman, Dan & Yang, Dean, 2012. "Revising commitments : field evidence on the adjustment of prior choices," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6093, The World Bank.
    3. Aaron Mehrotra & James Yetman, 2015. "Financial inclusion - issues for central banks," BIS Quarterly Review, Bank for International Settlements, March.
    4. repec:eee:jjieco:v:33:y:2014:i:c:p:96-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Gharad Bryan & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2015. "Referrals: Peer Screening and Enforcement in a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(3), pages 174-204, August.
    6. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    7. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:173-185 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2017. "Generalization in the Tropics: Development policy, randomized controlled trials, and external validity," Ruhr Economic Papers 716, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    9. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    10. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2016. "Policy evaluation, randomized controlled trials, and external validity—A systematic review," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 51-54.
    11. Belot, Michèle & James, Jonathan, 2016. "Partner selection into policy relevant field experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 31-56.
    12. Fitzsimons, Emla & Malde, Bansi & Mesnard, Alice & Vera-Hernández, Marcos, 2016. "Nutrition, information and household behavior: Experimental evidence from Malawi," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 113-126.
    13. Steve Brito & Ana Corbacho & Rene Osorio, 2017. "Does birth under-registration reduce childhood immunization? Evidence from the Dominican Republic," Health Economics Review, Springer, vol. 7(1), pages 1-18, December.
    14. Frisancho Veronica, 2012. "Signaling Creditworthiness in Peruvian Microfinance Markets: The Role of Information Sharing," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-43, October.
    15. Teresa Molina Millan & Karen Macours, 2017. "Attrition in randomized control trials: Using tracking information to correct bias," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp1702, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.
    16. Lasse Brune & Xavier Giné & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2016. "Facilitating Savings for Agriculture: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(2), pages 187-220.
    17. Infante, L. & Piazza, M., 2014. "Political connections and preferential lending at local level: Some evidence from the Italian credit market," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 246-262.
    18. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus & Sandip Sukhtankar, 2016. "Building State Capacity: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 106(10), pages 2895-2929, October.
    19. Hering, Imke & Musshoff, Oliver, 2015. "Dynamic Incentives in Microfinance – What about the Farmers?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 204673, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    20. Luisa Corrado & Majlinda Joxhe, 2016. "The Effect of Survey Design on Extreme Response Style: Rating Job Satisfaction," CEIS Research Paper 365, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 08 Feb 2016.

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    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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