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Liability structure in small-scale finance : evidence from a natural experimen

  • Carpena, Fenella
  • Cole, Shawn
  • Shapiro, Jeremy
  • Zia, Bilal

Microfinance, the provision of small individual and business loans, has witnessed dramatic growth, reaching over 150 million borrowers worldwide. Much of its success has been attributed to overcoming the challenges of information asymmetries in uncollateralized lending. Yet, very little is known about the optimal contract structure of such loans -- there is substantial variation across lenders, even within a particular setting. This paper exploits a plausibly exogenous change in the liability structure offered by a microfinance program in India, which shifted from individual to group liability lending. The analysis finds compelling evidence that contract structure matters: for the same borrower, required monthly loan installments are 6 percent less likely to be missed under the group liability setting, relative to individual liability. In addition, compulsory savings deposits are 19 percent less likely to be missed under group liability contracts.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5427.

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Date of creation: 01 Sep 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5427
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  1. Feigenberg, Benjamin & Field, Erica Marie & Pande, Rohini, 2010. "Building Social Capital Through Microfinance," Scholarly Articles 4449105, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  2. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Besley, Timothy & Guinnane, Timothy W, 1994. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: The Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 109(2), pages 491-515, May.
  3. Sharma, Manohar & Zeller, Manfred, 1997. "Repayment performance in group-based credit programs in Bangladesh: An empirical analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 25(10), pages 1731-1742, October.
  4. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  5. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1995. "Group lending, repayment incentives and social collateral," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 1-18, February.
  6. Beck, Thorsten & Demirguc-Kunt, Asli & Martinez Peria, Maria Soledad, 2007. "Reaching out: Access to and use of banking services across countries," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(1), pages 234-266, July.
  7. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1990. "Peer Monitoring and Credit Markets," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 4(3), pages 351-66, September.
  8. Ambec, Stefan & Treich, Nicolas, 2007. "Roscas as financial agreements to cope with self-control problems," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 120-137, January.
  9. Banerjee, Abhijit V & Newman, Andrew F, 1993. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(2), pages 274-98, April.
  10. Christian Ahlin & Robert Townsend, 2002. "Using Repayment Data to Test Across Models of Joint Liability Lending," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0227, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  11. repec:ebd:wpaper:136 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Raghuram G. Rajan & Luigi Zingales, . "Financial Dependence and Growth," CRSP working papers 344, Center for Research in Security Prices, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.
  13. Karlan, Dean & Gine, Xavier, 2009. "Group versus Individual Liability: Long Term Evidence from Philippine Microcredit Lending Groups," Working Papers 61, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  14. Armendariz de Aghion, Beatriz, 1999. "On the design of a credit agreement with peer monitoring," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 79-104, October.
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