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Subsidy Uncertainty and Microfinance Mission Drift

Author

Listed:
  • Beatriz Armendariz
  • Bert D'Espallier
  • Marek Hudon
  • Ariane Szafarz

Abstract

This paper shines light on subsidy-dependent microfinance institutions (MFIs). Firstly, our model shows that subsidy uncertainty can have pervasive effects on MFIs’ poverty-reduction mission. In particular, we argue that supply-driven uncertainty can lead to mission drift. MFIs maximize utility by serving the poor on the one hand, but must be financially sustainable on the other. Under the fear that subsidies can dry up, MFIs lend to wealthier clients in order to build precautionary savings. In a subsidy-uncertain world this is a rational reaction by MFIs struggling to preserve a pool of poor clients. We show that the incidence of mission drift increases with subsidy uncertainty. Secondly, we test the predictions of the model on original data collected from rating agencies assessment reports on 230 MFIs active in 60 countries over the period 1999-2006. Using both cross-section and panel-data regressions, we estimate the effect of subsidies on poverty reduction as proxied by average loan size, interest rates, and outreach. Our results suggest that more subsidies are associated with smaller loan sizes, but that higher subsidy uncertainty is positively correlated with higher interest rates. We also find that subsidy uncertainty is negatively correlated with outreach.

Suggested Citation

  • Beatriz Armendariz & Bert D'Espallier & Marek Hudon & Ariane Szafarz, 2011. "Subsidy Uncertainty and Microfinance Mission Drift," Working Papers CEB 11-014, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:sol:wpaper:2013/83742
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. Ahmad Nawaz, 2010. "Efficiency and Productivity of Microfinance: Incorporating the Role of Subsidies," Working Papers CEB 10-009.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    10. Agier, Isabelle & Szafarz, Ariane, 2013. "Microfinance and Gender: Is There a Glass Ceiling on Loan Size?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 165-181.
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    Cited by:

    1. Renaud Bourlès & Anastasia Cozarenco, 2014. "State intervention and the microcredit market: the role of business development services," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 43(4), pages 931-944, December.
    2. Mariya Pylypiv & Sugato Chakravarty, 2013. "The Role of Subsidization and Organizational Status on Borrower Repayment Rates in Microfinance Institutions," Working Papers 1018, Purdue University, Department of Consumer Sciences.
    3. D’Espallier, Bert & Hudon, Marek & Szafarz, Ariane, 2013. "Unsubsidized microfinance institutions," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(2), pages 174-176.
    4. Dlamini, Menzie S, 2011. "The effect of subsidies on the performance and sustainability of microfinance institutions in sub Saharan Africa," Research Theses 157512, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    5. Anastasia Cozarenco, 2015. "Microfinance Institutions and Banks in Europe: The story to date," Working Papers CEB 15-027, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. Dlamini, Menzie S., 2012. "The effect of subsidies on the performance and sustainability of microfinance institutions in sub-Saharan Africa," Research Theses 134487, Collaborative Masters Program in Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    7. Ashim Kumar Kar, 2017. "Income Smoothing, Capital Management and Provisioning Behaviour of Microfinance Institutions: A Study Using Global Panel Data," The European Journal of Development Research, Palgrave Macmillan;European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI), vol. 29(1), pages 108-126, January.
    8. 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.
    9. Chakravarty, Sugato & Pylypiv, Mariya I., 2015. "The Role of Subsidization and Organizational Status on Microfinance Borrower Repayment Rates," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 737-748.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    microfinance; subsidies; mission drift; poverty reduction; average loan size; interest rate; outreach;

    JEL classification:

    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • O54 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Latin America; Caribbean
    • O57 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Comparative Studies of Countries

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