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

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  • Gharad T. Bryan
  • Dean Karlan
  • Jonathan Zinman

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Gharad T. Bryan & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2012. "Referrals: Peer Screening and Enforcement in a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17883, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17883
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    1. 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 3574-3593, December.
    2. Melanie Morten & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2012. "A Personal Touch: Text Messaging for Loan Repayment," Working Papers 1011, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    3. Ghatak, Maitreesh, 1999. "Group lending, local information and peer selection," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 27-50, October.
    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 274-298, April.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Timothy Besley & Timothy W. Guinnane, 1994. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: The Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 491-515.
    6. Christian Ahlin & RobertM. Townsend, 2007. "Using Repayment Data to Test Across Models of Joint Liability Lending," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(517), pages 11-51, February.
    7. Xavier Gine & Jessica Goldberg & Dean Yang, 2012. "Credit Market Consequences of Improved Personal Identification: Field Experimental Evidence from Malawi," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(6), pages 2923-2954, October.
    8. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther, 2004. "Do Firms Want to Borrow More? Testing Credit Constraints Using a Directed Lending Program," CEPR Discussion Papers 4681, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Stefan Klonner & Ashok Rai, 2008. "Cosigners as Collateral," Department of Economics Working Papers 2008-04, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    10. Bond, Philip & Rai, Ashok S., 2008. "Cosigned vs. group loans," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1-2), pages 58-80, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:4:p:e67-e87 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:230-249 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:pid:journl:v:55:y:2016:i:4:p:331-348 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Biener, Christian & Eling, Martin & Landmann, Andreas & Pradhan, Shailee, 2018. "Can group incentives alleviate moral hazard? The role of pro-social preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 230-249.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • 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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