IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/unu/wpaper/wp2017-190.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poverty and wellbeing impacts of microfinance: What do we know?

Author

Listed:
  • Mathilde Maîtrot
  • Miguel Niño-Zarazúa

Abstract

Over the last 35 years, microfinance has been generally regarded as an effective policy tool in the fight against poverty. Yet, the question of whether access to credit leads to poverty reduction and improved wellbeing remains open. To address this question, we conduct a systematic review of the quantitative literature of microfinance’s impacts in the developing world, and develop a theory of change that links inputs to impacts on several welfare outcomes. Overall, we find that the limited comparability of outcomes and the heterogeneity of microfinance-lending technologies, together with a considerable variation in socio-economic conditions and contexts in which impact studies have been conducted, render the interpretation and generalization of findings intricate. Our results indicate that, at best, microfinance induces short-term dynamism in the financial life of the poor; however, we do not find compelling evidence that this dynamism leads to increases in income, consumption, human capital and assets, and, ultimately, a reduction in poverty

Suggested Citation

  • Mathilde Maîtrot & Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, 2017. "Poverty and wellbeing impacts of microfinance: What do we know?," WIDER Working Paper Series 190, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2017-190
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.wider.unu.edu/sites/default/files/Publications/Working-paper/PDF/wp2017-190.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hala Abou-Ali & Hesham El-Azony & Heba El-Laithy & Jonathan Haughton & Shahid Khandker, 2010. "Evaluating the impact of Egyptian Social Fund for Development programmes," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(4), pages 521-555.
    2. Joanna Ledgerwood & Victoria White, 2006. "Transforming Microfinance Institutions : Providing Full Financial Services to the Poor," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7086.
    3. Asad K. Ghalib & Issam Malki & Katsushi S. Imai, 2015. "Microfinance and Household Poverty Reduction: Empirical Evidence from Rural Pakistan," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 84-104, March.
    4. Bhatt, Nitin & Tang, Shui-Yan, 1998. "The problem of transaction costs in group-based microlending: An institutional perspective," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 623-637, April.
    5. Thibbotuwawa, R.M.M.I. & Printhika, B.L.D.S. & Jayasinghe-Mudalige, Udith K. & Udugama, J.M.M., 2012. "Impact Of Microfinance On Household Welfare: Assessing The Case Of Samurdhi Program In Sri Lanka," 2012 Conference (56th), February 7-10, 2012, Fremantle, Australia 124320, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    6. Alessandro Tarozzi & Jaikishan Desai & Kristin Johnson, 2015. "The Impacts of Microcredit: Evidence from Ethiopia," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 54-89, January.
    7. Mark M. Pitt, 2014. "Response to 'The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence'," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(4), pages 605-610, April.
    8. Toshio Kondo & Aniceto Orbeta Jr. & Clarence Dingcong & Christine Infantado, 2008. "Impact of Microfinance on Rural Households in the Philippines," Development Economics Working Papers 22639, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
    9. Matthieu Chemin, 2008. "The Benefits and Costs of Microfinance: Evidence from Bangladesh," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 463-484, April.
    10. Kazushi TAKAHASHI & Takayuki HIGASHIKATA & Kazunari TSUKADA, 2010. "The Short-Term Poverty Impact Of Small-Scale, Collateral-Free Microcredit In Indonesia: A Matching Estimator Approach," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 48(1), pages 128-155.
    11. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Group lending, repayment incentives and social collateral," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-18, February.
    12. Joanna Ledgerwood, 2013. "The New Microfinance Handbook : A Financial Market System Perspective," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 12272.
    13. Manuela Angelucci & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2015. "Microcredit Impacts: Evidence from a Randomized Microcredit Program Placement Experiment by Compartamos Banco," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 151-182, January.
    14. Marguerite S. Robinson, 1996. "Addressing some key questions on finance and poverty," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(2), pages 153-161.
    15. Ghatak, Maitreesh & Guinnane, Timothy W., 1999. "The economics of lending with joint liability: theory and practice," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 195-228, October.
    16. Ranjula Bali Swain & Maria Floro, 2011. "Assessing the Effect of Microfinance on Vulnerability and Poverty among Low Income Households," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 48(5), pages 605-618, June.
    17. Bruno Crépon & Florencia Devoto & Esther Duflo & William Parienté, 2015. "Estimating the Impact of Microcredit on Those Who Take It Up: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Morocco," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 123-150, January.
    18. Shahidur R. Khandker & Hussain A. Samad, 2013. "Microfinance Growth and Poverty Reduction in Bangladesh: What Does the Longitudinal Data Say?," Working Papers 16, Institute of Microfinance (InM).
    19. repec:pri:rpdevs:morduch_microfinance_poor is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
    21. Imai, Katsushi S. & Arun, Thankom & Annim, Samuel Kobina, 2010. "Microfinance and Household Poverty Reduction: New Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 1760-1774, December.
    22. David Roodman & Jonathan Morduch, 2014. "The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(4), pages 583-604, April.
    23. David Hulme & Mathilde Maitrot, 2014. "Has Microfinance Lost its Moral Compass?," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 20514, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    24. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1983. "Incentive Effects of Terminations: Applications to the Credit and Labor Markets," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 912-927, December.
    25. Orazio Attanasio & Britta Augsburg & Ralph De Haas & Emla Fitzsimons & Heike Harmgart, 2015. "The Impacts of Microfinance: Evidence from Joint-Liability Lending in Mongolia," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 90-122, January.
    26. 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.
    27. Shahidur R. Khandker, 2005. "Microfinance and Poverty: Evidence Using Panel Data from Bangladesh," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 19(2), pages 263-286.
    28. Asad K. Ghalib & Issam Malki & Katsushi S. Imai, 2011. "The Impact of Microfinance and its Role in Easing Poverty of Rural Households: Estimations from Pakistan," Discussion Paper Series DP2011-28, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    29. Asadul Islam, 2011. "Medium- and Long-Term Participation in Microcredit: An Evaluation Using a New Panel Dataset from Bangladesh," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(3), pages 843-862.
    30. Mark Pitt, 2014. "Re-Re-Reply to “The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence”," Working Papers 2014-2, Brown University, Department of Economics.
    31. DeLoach, Stephen B. & Lamanna, Erika, 2011. "Measuring the Impact of Microfinance on Child Health Outcomes in Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(10), pages 1808-1819.
    32. 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.
    33. Helke Waelde, 2011. "Demasking the impact of microfinance," Working Papers 1115, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, revised 09 Nov 2011.
    34. Liverpool, Lenis Saweda O. & Winter-Nelson, Alex, 2010. "Poverty Status and the Impact of Formal Credit on Technology Use and Wellbeing among Ethiopian Smallholders," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 541-554, April.
    35. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Cynthia Kinnan, 2015. "The Miracle of Microfinance? Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 22-53, January.
    36. Joseph P. Kaboski & Robert M. Townsend, 2011. "A Structural Evaluation of a Large‐Scale Quasi‐Experimental Microfinance Initiative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(5), pages 1357-1406, September.
    37. Stiglitz, Joseph E & Weiss, Andrew, 1981. "Credit Rationing in Markets with Imperfect Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 71(3), pages 393-410, June.
    38. Beatriz Armendáriz de Aghion & Jonathan Morduch, 2000. "Microfinance Beyond Group Lending," The Economics of Transition, The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, vol. 8(2), pages 401-420, July.
    39. Coleman, Brett E., 1999. "The impact of group lending in Northeast Thailand," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 105-141, October.
    40. 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..
    41. Sununtar Setboonsarng & Ziyodullo Parpiev, 2010. "Microfinance and the Millennium Development Goals in Pakistan: Impact Assessment Using Propensity Score Matching," Working Papers id:2380, eSocialSciences.
    42. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    43. Jayati Ghosh, 2013. "Microfinance and the challenge of financial inclusion for development," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 37(6), pages 1203-1219.
    44. Doocy, Shannon & Teferra, Shimeles & Norell, Dan & Burnham, Gilbert, 2005. "Credit program outcomes: coping capacity and nutritional status in the food insecure context of Ethiopia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 60(10), pages 2371-2382, May.
    45. Lensink, Robert & Sterken, Elmer, 2002. "Monetary transmission and bank competition in the EMU," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 26(11), pages 2065-2075, November.
    46. Indunil De Silva, 2012. "Evaluating the Impact of Microfinance on Savings and Income in Sri Lanka:Quasi-experimental Approach Using Propensity Score Matching," Margin: The Journal of Applied Economic Research, National Council of Applied Economic Research, vol. 6(1), pages 47-74, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:unu:wpaper:wp2017-190. 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: (Mauricio Roa Grisales). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/widerfi.html .

    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 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.

    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.