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Microfinance Over-Indebtedness: Understanding its drivers and challenging the common myths

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  • Jessica Schicks

Abstract

The microfinance industry has been celebrated both for its social impact on poverty alleviation and for its profitability. With issues of over-indebtedness emerging among microfinance customers, both achievements are at risk. This paper contributes to the industry's understanding of the definition and causes of over-indebtedness. It reveals why the 5 myths of microfinance over-indebtedness erroneously oversimplify the reality of microfinance customers. The paper works with theoretical and empirical contributions from economics, psychology and sociology, and unites microfinance specific findings with the general consumer finance literature. In addition to external influences, it highlights the responsibility of lenders in driving microfinance customers into over-indebtedness. It also recognises the role that borrowers involuntarily play in over-indebting themselves. Enhancing our understanding of what microfinance over-indebtedness is and how it is caused, the paper provides the basis for tailoring over-indebtedness solutions to the root causes of the phenomenon and addressing the challenge at all suitable levels. Latest version (June 2011) :http://www.solvay.edu/sites/upload/files/CEB_WorkingPapers/LastUpdate/wp10048.pdf

Suggested Citation

  • Jessica Schicks, 2010. "Microfinance Over-Indebtedness: Understanding its drivers and challenging the common myths," Working Papers CEB 10-048, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/64675
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ana del Río & Garry Young, 2005. "The impact of unsecured debt on financial distress among British households," Working Papers 0512, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    2. Beatriz Armendáriz & Ariane Szafarz, 2011. "On Mission Drift in Microfinance Institutions," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Handbook Of Microfinance, chapter 16, pages 341-366 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Microfinance Over-Indebtedness: Naming the beast and nailing the concept
      by Jessica Schicks in CGAP Microfinance Blog on 2011-02-01 05:17:08
    2. Save the Date: Bateman-Roodman Debate
      by philmader in governance across borders on 2012-01-23 20:50:12

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jessica Schicks, 2011. "From a supply gap to a demand gap? The risk and consequences of over-indebting the underbanked," Working Papers CEB 11-046, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Marion Allet, 2014. "Why Do Microfinance Institutions Go Green? An Exploratory Study," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 122(3), pages 405-424, July.
    3. Bos, Jaap W.B. & Millone, Matteo, 2015. "Practice What You Preach: Microfinance Business Models and Operational Efficiency," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 28-42.
    4. Jessica Schicks, 2013. "The Sacrifices of Micro-Borrowers in Ghana -- A Customer-Protection Perspective on Measuring Over-Indebtedness," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(9), pages 1238-1255, September.
    5. Winkler, Adalbert & Wagner, Charlotte, 2013. "Growth patterns of microfinance clients - Evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79945, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    6. Schicks, Jessica, 2014. "Over-Indebtedness in Microfinance – An Empirical Analysis of Related Factors on the Borrower Level," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 301-324.
    7. 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.
    8. Khandker, Shahidur R. & Faruqee, Rashid & Samad, Hussain A., 2013. "Are microcredit borrowers in Bangladesh over-indebted ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6574, The World Bank.
    9. Matteo Marinangeli & Andrea Filippo Presbitero, 2011. "Can the Poor Save More? Evidence from Bangladesh," Mo.Fi.R. Working Papers 57, Money and Finance Research group (Mo.Fi.R.) - Univ. Politecnica Marche - Dept. Economic and Social Sciences.
    10. Bouyon, Sylvain & Musmeci, Roberto, 2016. "Two Dimensions of Combating Over-Indebtedness: Consumer protection and financial stability," ECRI Papers 11930, Centre for European Policy Studies.
    11. Bert D'Espallier & Marek Hudon & Ariane Szafarz, 2016. "Aid Volatility and Social Performance in Microfinance," Working Papers CEB 16-015, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    12. Michael Hamp & Carolina Laureti, 2011. "Balancing flexibility and discipline in microfinance: Innovative financial products that benefit clients and service providers," Working Papers CEB 11-044, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    13. Sk. Mahmudul Alam, Mahmud, 2012. "Does Microcredit Create Over-indebtedness?," MPRA Paper 39124, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Microfinance; Microcredit; Over-Indebtedness; Debt; Customer Protection; Consumer Finance; Behavioural Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O50 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - General
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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