IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Microfinance and the Decline of Poverty: Evidence from the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands


  • Heidi Deneweth
  • Oscar Gelderblom
  • Joost Jonker


Building on recent work by Collins et al. this paper aims to explain the failure of corporate and public initiatives to alleviate poverty before the twentieth century by unravelling the financial rationale behind the various combinations of private efforts, family and neighbourhood help, financial intermediation, and government intervention tried by poor households in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. There existed several financial institutions whose functioning was very similar to modern microfinance institutions, yet none of them were in a position to help the poor. We find that in the Netherlands the boundary of formal financial markets moved down not because of financial innovation, but because of economic growth pushing up wages. Until the last quarter of the 19th-century poor households simply lacked the money to use newly established mutual insurances, savings- and loan banks.

Suggested Citation

  • Heidi Deneweth & Oscar Gelderblom & Joost Jonker, 2013. "Microfinance and the Decline of Poverty: Evidence from the Nineteenth-Century Netherlands," Working Papers 0039, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucg:wpaper:0039

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    2. Swamy, Anand & Knack, Stephen & Lee, Young & Azfar, Omar, 2001. "Gender and corruption," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 25-55, February.
    3. La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1999. "The Quality of Government," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(1), pages 222-279, April.
    4. Guido Tabellini, 2010. "Culture and Institutions: Economic Development in the Regions of Europe," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 8(4), pages 677-716, June.
    5. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A. & Yared, Pierre, 2009. "Reevaluating the modernization hypothesis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1043-1058, November.
    6. Acemoglu,Daron & Robinson,James A., 2009. "Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671422, March.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:53:y:1959:i:01:p:69-105_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Sarah Guilland Carmichael & Tine De Moor & Jan Luiten van Zanden, 2011. "“When the heart is baked, don’t try to knead it”: Marriage age and spousal age gap as a measure of female ‘agency’," Working Papers 0019, Utrecht University, Centre for Global Economic History.
    9. repec:hrv:faseco:30747160 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:04:p:903-910_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    microfinance; poverty; cash flow management; 19th century; Netherlands;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:ucg:wpaper:0039. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sarah Carmichael). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.