IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/pri/rpdevs/morduch_microfinance_poor.pdf.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Does Microfinance Really Help the Poor? New Evidence from Flagship Programs in Bangladesh

Author

Listed:
  • Jonathan Morduch

    (Harvard University and Stanford University)

Abstract

The microfinance movement has built on innovations in financial intermediation that reduce the costs and risks of lending to poor households. Replications of the movement's flagship, the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, have now spread around the world. While programs aim to bring social and economic benefits to clients, few attempts have been made to quantify benefits rigorously. This paper draws on a new cross-sectional survey of nearly 1800 households, some of which are served by the Grameen Bank and two similar programs, and some of which have no access to programs. Households that are eligible to borrow and have access to the programs do not have notably higher consumption levels than control households, and, for the most part, their children are no more likely to be in school. Men also tend to work harder, and women less. More favorably, relative to controls, households eligible for programs have substantially (and significantly) lower variation in consumption and labor supply across seasons. The most important potential impacts are thus associated with the reduction of vulnerability, not of poverty per se. The consumption-smoothing appears to be driven largely by income-smoothing, not by borrowing and lending. The evaluation holds lessons for studies of other programs in low-income countries. While it is common to use fixed effects estimators to control for unobservable variables correlated with the placement of programs, using fixed effects estimators can exacerbate biases when, as here, programs target their programs to specific populations within larger communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonathan Morduch, 1998. "Does Microfinance Really Help the Poor? New Evidence from Flagship Programs in Bangladesh," Working Papers 198, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  • Handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:morduch_microfinance_poor.pdf
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://rpds.princeton.edu/sites/rpds/files/media/morduch_microfinance_poor_0.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
    2. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 103-114, Summer.
    3. James Heckman, 1997. "Instrumental Variables: A Study of Implicit Behavioral Assumptions Used in Making Program Evaluations," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 441-462.
    4. Hossain, Mahabub, 1988. "Credit for alleviation of rural poverty: the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh," Research reports 65, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    5. Robert Moffitt, 1991. "Program Evaluation With Nonexperimental Data," Evaluation Review, , vol. 15(3), pages 291-314, June.
    6. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Maldonado, Jorge Higinio & Gonzalez-Vega, Claudio & Romero, Vivianne, 2003. "The Influence Of Microfinance On The Education Decisions Of Rural Households: Evidence From Bolivia," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22067, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    2. Tanjinul Hoque Mollah & Sharmin Shishir & Wahid Ullah & Takaaki Nihei, 2019. "Assessing NGOs micro-credit programs: a geo-spatial and socio-economic scenario from rural Bangladesh," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 66(2), pages 79-99, June.
    3. Mark Schreiner & Jacob Yaron, 2001. "Development Finance Institutions : Measuring Their Subsidy," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 13983, December.
    4. Alberto Lanzavecchia, 2012. "Is microcredit targeted to poor people? Evidences from a Cambodian microfinance institution," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0149, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    5. Alwang, Jeffrey & Puhazhendhi, V., 2002. "The impact of the International Food Policy Research Institute's research program on rural finance policies for food security for the poor," Impact assessments 16, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Ghulam Hussain, A.K.M. & Nargis, Nigar & Ashiquzzaman, S.M. & Khalil, Fahad, 2019. "The employment impact of microcredit program participation in Bangladesh: Evidence from a longitudinal household survey," World Development Perspectives, Elsevier, vol. 13(C), pages 34-49.
    7. Grant Miller & Diana Pinto & Marcos Vera-Hernández, 2013. "Risk Protection, Service Use, and Health Outcomes under Colombia's Health Insurance Program for the Poor," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 61-91, October.
    8. Waqas Umar Latif & Sana Ullah & Wasim Ahmed & Muhammad Umar Sultan & Rana Muhammad Sohail Jafar & Muhammad Tariq & Wang Linping, 2020. "Microcredit and Economic Welfare: Experience of Poor Rural Households from Pakistan," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 32(6), pages 976-997, August.
    9. Naveen K Shetty, 2008. "The Microfinance Promise in Financial Inclusion and Welfare of the Poor: Evidence from Karnataka, India," Working Papers 205 Keyword : Banking, Mi, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore.
    10. 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.
    11. Li, Xia & Gan, Christopher & Hu, Baiding, 2011. "The welfare impact of microcredit on rural households in China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(4), pages 404-411, August.
    12. Abu S. Shonchoy, 2015. "Seasonal Migration and Microcredit During Agricultural Lean Seasons: Evidence from Northwest Bangladesh," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 53(1), pages 1-26, March.
    13. Asad K. Ghalib & Issam Malki & Katsushi S. Imai, 2012. "Microfinance and its role in household poverty reduction: findings from Pakistan," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 17312, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    14. M. Jahangir Alam Chowdhury & Dipak Ghosh & Robert E. Wright, 2005. "The impact of micro-credit on poverty: evidence from Bangladesh," Progress in Development Studies, , vol. 5(4), pages 298-309, October.
    15. Amin, Sajeda & Rai, Ashok S. & Topa, Giorgio, 2003. "Does microcredit reach the poor and vulnerable? Evidence from northern Bangladesh," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 59-82, February.
    16. Berg Claudia & Emran M. Shahe, 2020. "Microfinance and Vulnerability to Seasonal Famine in a Rural Economy: Evidence from Monga in Bangladesh," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 20(3), pages 1-36, July.
    17. Dercon, Stefan & De Weerdt, Joachim & Bold, Tessa & Pankhurst, Alula, 2006. "Group-based funeral insurance in Ethiopia and Tanzania," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 685-703, April.
    18. Simon Zaby, 2019. "Science Mapping of the Global Knowledge Base on Microfinance: Influential Authors and Documents, 1989–2019," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(14), pages 1-21, July.
    19. Gutiérrez-Nieto, Begoña & Serrano-Cinca, Carlos, 2019. "20 years of research in microfinance: An information management approach," International Journal of Information Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 183-197.
    20. Wijesiri, Mahinda & Yaron, Jacob & Meoli, Michele, 2017. "Assessing the financial and outreach efficiency of microfinance institutions: Do age and size matter?," Journal of Multinational Financial Management, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 63-76.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    microfinance; project evaluation; Grameen Bank; Bangladesh;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D31 - Microeconomics - - Distribution - - - Personal Income and Wealth Distribution
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pri:rpdevs:morduch_microfinance_poor.pdf. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Bobray Bordelon (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/rpprius.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.