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The Evolution of A Microcredit Institution: The Irish Loan Funds, 1720 - 1920

  • Aidan Hollis
  • Arthur Sweetman

We introduce the Irish loan funds, a set of independent but regulated microcredit societies, which in the mid-nineteenth century were lending to 20% of Irish households. Their institutional evolution is traced from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. This system was remarkably successful at transferring capital to the "industrious poor" on a large scale over a long period. We argue that its structure conferred many advantages on the funds, enabling them to mitigate informational problems and allowing sufficient flexibility for the institution to survive even the Great Famine. Empirical analysis confirms their sensitivity to external economic factors and their role in promoting diversification.

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Paper provided by University of Toronto, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number ecpap-96-01.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 02 Jan 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:tor:tecipa:ecpap-96-01
Contact details of provider: Postal: 150 St. George Street, Toronto, Ontario
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  1. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  2. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate & Glenn Loury, 1992. "The Economics of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations," Boston University - Institute for Economic Development 24, Boston University, Institute for Economic Development.
  3. Aruna Srinivasan, 1994. "Intervention in credit markets and development lending," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, issue May, pages 13-27.
  4. Adams, Dale W & Von Pischke, J. D., 1992. "Microenterprise credit programs: Deja vu," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 20(10), pages 1463-1470, October.
  5. Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent, 1994. "Rural Credit Markets and Aggregate Shocks: The Experience of Nuits St. Georges, 1756–1776," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 54(02), pages 288-306, June.
  6. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  7. North, Douglass C., 1984. "Government and the Cost of Exchange in History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 44(02), pages 255-264, June.
  8. Hoff, Karla, 2008. "Joseph E. Stiglitz," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4478, The World Bank.
  9. Udry, Christopher, 1994. "Risk and Insurance in a Rural Credit Market: An Empirical Investigation in Northern Nigeria," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(3), pages 495-526, July.
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