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Referrals: Peer Screening and Enforcement in a Consumer Credit Field Experiment

  • Gharad T. Bryan
  • Dean Karlan
  • Jonathan Zinman

Empirical evidence on peer intermediation lags behind many years of lending practice and a large body of theory in which lenders use peers to mitigate adverse selection and moral hazard. Using a simple referral incentive mechanism under individual liability, we develop and implement a two-stage field experiment that permits separate identification of peer screening and enforcement effects. We allow for borrower heterogeneity in both ex-ante repayment type and ex-post susceptibility to social pressure. Our key contribution is how we deal with the interaction between these two sources of asymmetric information. Our method allows us to cleanly identify selection on the likelihood of repayment, selection on the susceptibility to social pressure, and loan enforcement. We estimate peer effects on loan repayment in our setting, and find no evidence of screening (albeit with an imprecisely estimated zero) and large effects on enforcement. We then discuss the potential utility and portability of the methodological innovation, for both science and for practice.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17883.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17883.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17883
Note: CF LE LS
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  1. Christian Ahlin & Robert Townsend, 2002. "Using Repayment Data to Test Across Models of Joint Liability Lending," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0227, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  2. Lori Beaman & Jeremy Magruder, 2012. "Who Gets the Job Referral? Evidence from a Social Networks Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3574-93, December.
  3. 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.
  4. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  5. Bond, Philip & Rai, Ashok S., 2008. "Cosigned vs. group loans," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 58-80, February.
  6. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 1999. "Group lending, local information and peer selection," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 27-50, October.
  7. Stefan Klonner & Ashok Rai, 2008. "Cosigners as Collateral," Center for Development Economics 2008-08, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  8. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
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