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Do interest rates matter? credit demand in the Dhaka Slums

  • Dehejia, Rajeev
  • Montgomery, Heather
  • Morduch, Jonathan

If the demand for credit by the poor changes little when interest rates increase, lenders can raise fees to cost-covering levels without losing customers. This claim is at the core of sustainable microfinance strategies that aim to provide banking services to the poor while eschewing long-term subsidies, but, so far, there is little direct evidence of this. This paper uses data from SafeSave, a credit cooperative in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, to examine how sensitive borrowers are to increases in the interest rate on loans. Using unanticipated between-branch variation in the interest rate we estimate interest elasticities of loan demand ranging from -0.73 to -1.04. Less wealthy accountholders are more sensitive to the interest rate than (relatively) wealthier borrowers (an elasticity of -0.86 compared to -0.26), and consequently the bank’s portfolio shifts away from its poorest borrowers when it increases the interest rate.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 33146.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:33146
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  1. David J. McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2006. "Do Entry Costs Provide an Empirical Basis for Poverty Traps? Evidence from Mexican Microenterprises," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 3-42.
  2. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4230, The World Bank.
  3. David B. Gross & Nicholas S. Souleles, 2001. "Do Liquidity Constraints and Interest Rates Matter for Consumer Behavior? Evidence from Credit Card Data," NBER Working Papers 8314, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  5. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2008. "Credit Elasticities in Less-Developed Economies: Implications for Microfinance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1040-68, June.
  6. Alessie, Rob & Hochguertel, Stefan & Weber, Guglielmo, 2001. "Consumer Credit: Evidence from Italian Micro Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 3071, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  8. Robert Cull & Asli Demirgüç-Kunt & Jonathan Morduch, 2009. "Microfinance Meets the Market," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(1), pages 167-92, Winter.
  9. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "The role of subsidies in microfinance: evidence from the Grameen Bank," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 229-248, October.
  10. Ashok S. Rai & Tomas Sj–str–m, 2004. "Is Grameen Lending Efficient? Repayment Incentives and Insurance in Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 217-234, 01.
  11. Beatriz Armendáriz & Jonathan Morduch, 2010. "The Economics of Microfinance, Second Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262513986, June.
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