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The Diffusion of Microfinance

Author

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  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Arun G. Chandrasekhar
  • Esther Duflo
  • Matthew O. Jackson

Abstract

We examine how participation in a microfinance program diffuses through social networks. We collected detailed demographic and social network data in 43 villages in South India before microfinance was introduced in those villages and then tracked eventual participation. We exploit exogenous variation in the importance (in a network sense) of the people who were first informed about the program, "the injection points". Microfinance participation is higher when the injection points have higher eigenvector centrality. We estimate structural models of diffusion that allow us to (i) determine the relative roles of basic information transmission versus other forms of peer influence, and (ii) distinguish information passing by participants and non-participants. We find that participants are significantly more likely to pass information on to friends and acquaintances than informed non-participants, but that information passing by non-participants is still substantial and significant, accounting for roughly a third of informedness and participation. We also find that, conditioned on being informed, an individual's decision is not significantly affected by the participation of her acquaintances.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Esther Duflo & Matthew O. Jackson, 2012. "The Diffusion of Microfinance," NBER Working Papers 17743, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17743
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Coralio Ballester & Antoni Calvó-Armengol & Yves Zenou, 2006. "Who's Who in Networks. Wanted: The Key Player," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1403-1417, September.
    2. López-Pintado, Dunia, 2008. "Diffusion in complex social networks," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 573-590, March.
    3. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    4. Jackson Matthew O. & Rogers Brian W., 2007. "Relating Network Structure to Diffusion Properties through Stochastic Dominance," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 7(1), pages 1-16, February.
    5. Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Cynthia Kinnan & Horacio Larreguy, 2014. "Social Networks as Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field," NBER Working Papers 20259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • L14 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Transactional Relationships; Contracts and Reputation
    • 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
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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