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High Noon for Microfinance Impact Evaluations: Re-investigating the Evidence from Bangladesh

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  • Duvendack, Maren
  • Palmer-Jones, Richard

Abstract

Recently, microfinance has come under increasing criticism raising questions of the validity of iconic studies which have justified the microfinance phenomenon. This paper applies propensity score matching (PSM), which has become widely used for the analysis of observational data, to the study by Pitt and Khandker (1998) which has been labelled the most rigorous evidence supporting claims that microfinance benefits the poorest especially when targeted on women. After carefully reconstructing the data we differentiate outcomes by gender of borrower, take account of borrowing from several formal and informal sources, and find that the mainly positive impacts of microfinance that we observe are shown by sensitivity analysis to be highly vulnerable to selection on unobservables, and we are therefore not convinced that the relationships between microfinance and outcomes are causal.

Suggested Citation

  • Duvendack, Maren & Palmer-Jones, Richard, 2011. "High Noon for Microfinance Impact Evaluations: Re-investigating the Evidence from Bangladesh," MPRA Paper 27902, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27902
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    2. Richard Mallett & Jessica Hagen-Zanker & Rachel Slater & Maren Duvendack, 2012. "The benefits and challenges of using systematic reviews in international development research," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(3), pages 445-455, September.
    3. Agnes Quisumbing & Neha Kumar, 2011. "Does social capital build women's assets? The long-term impacts of group-based and individual dissemination of agricultural technology in Bangladesh," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 220-242.
    4. Seng, Kimty, 2017. "Considering the Effects of Mobile Phones on Financial Inclusion in Cambodia," MPRA Paper 82225, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 27 Oct 2017.
    5. Radhakrishnan, Smitha, 2015. "“Low Profile” or Entrepreneurial? Gender, Class, and Cultural Adaptation in the Global Microfinance Industry," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 264-274.
    6. Erhardt, Eva Christine, 2017. "Microfinance beyond self-employment: Evidence for firms in Bulgaria," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 75-95.
    7. Agnes Quisumbing & Bob Baulch & Neha Kumar, 2011. "Evaluating the long-term impact of anti-poverty interventions in Bangladesh: an overview," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 3(2), pages 153-174.
    8. Chliova, Myrto & Brinckmann, Jan & Rosenbusch, Nina, 2015. "Is microcredit a blessing for the poor? A meta-analysis examining development outcomes and contextual considerations," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 467-487.
    9. Irani Arráiz & Carla Calero & Songqing Jin & Alexandra Peralta, 2015. "Planting the Seeds: The Impact of Training on Mango Producers in Haiti," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 7184, Inter-American Development Bank.
    10. Ragasa, Catherine, 2012. "Gender and Institutional Dimensions of Agricultural Technology Adoption: A Review of Literature and Synthesis of 35 Case Studies," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126747, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    11. Abhi Dattasharma & Rajalaxmi Kamath & Smita Ramanathan, 2016. "The Burden of Microfinance Debt: Lessons from the Ramanagaram Financial Diaries," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 47(1), pages 130-156, January.
    12. Maria Porter, 2016. "Effects of microcredit and other loans on female empowerment in Bangladesh: the borrower's gender influences intra-household resource allocation," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(2), pages 235-245, March.
    13. Robert M Hirth & Daanish Pestonjee, 2016. "How Group Lending Affects Innovation: Evidence From Ethiopia," Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship (JDE), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 21(04), pages 1-15, December.
    14. Morduch, Jonathan & Ravi, Shamika & Bauchet, Jonathan, 2013. "Substitution Bias and External Validity: Why an Innovative Anti-poverty Program Showed no Net Impact," CEI Working Paper Series 2013-02, Center for Economic Institutions, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    15. Dan Pan, 2014. "The Impact of Agricultural Extension on Farmer Nutrient Management Behavior in Chinese Rice Production: A Household-Level Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(10), pages 1-22, September.
    16. Ida D'Attoma & Silvia Pacei, 2014. "Offshoring and Firm Performance: Evidence from the Italian Manufacturing Industry," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(1), pages 29-44, February.
    17. Weber, Olaf & Ahmad, Adnan, 2014. "Empowerment Through Microfinance: The Relation Between Loan Cycle and Level of Empowerment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 75-87.
    18. Bateman, Milford & Sinković, Dean & Škare, Marinko, 2012. "The contribution of the microfinance model to Bosnia's post-war reconstruction and development: How to destroy an economy and society without really trying," Working Papers 36, Österreichische Forschungsstiftung für Internationale Entwicklung (ÖFSE) / Austrian Foundation for Development Research.
    19. Duvendack, Maren & Palmer-Jones, Richard, 2011. "The microfinance of reproduction and the reproduction of microfinance: understanding the connections between microfinance, empowerment, contraception and fertility in Bangladesh in the 1990s," MPRA Paper 32384, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    20. Djimeu, Eric W., 2014. "The impact of social action funds on child health in a conflict affected country: Evidence from Angola," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 35-42.

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    Keywords

    Microfinance; impact evaluation; Bangladesh; propensity score matching; sensitivity analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • C10 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - General
    • C31 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; Quantile Regressions; Social Interaction Models
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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