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What does debt relief do for development ? evidence from India's bailout program for highly-indebted rural households

  • Kanz, Martin

This paper studies the impact of a large debt relief program, intended to attenuate investment constraints among highly-indebted households in rural India. It isolates the causal effect of bankruptcy-like debt relief settlements using a natural experiment arising from India's Debt Relief Program for Small and Marginal Farmers -- one of the largest debt relief initiatives in history. The analysis shows that debt relief has a persistent effect on the level of household debt, but does not increase investment and productivity as predicted by theories of debt overhang. Instead, the anticipation of future credit constraints leads to a greater reliance on informal financing, lower investment and a decline in productivity among bailout recipients. The results suggest that one-time settlements may be insufficient to incentivize new investment, but can have significant real effects through their impact on borrower expectations.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6258.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6258
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  1. Ulf von Lilienfeld-Toal & Dilip Mookherjee & Sujata Visaria, 2009. "The Distributive impact of reforms in credit enforcement: Evidence from Indian debt recovery tribunals," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 09-03, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
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  8. Cole, Shawn & Gine, Xavier & Tobacman, Jeremy & Topalova, Petia & Townsend, Robert & Vickery, James, 2010. "Barriers to household risk management : evidence from India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5504, The World Bank.
  9. Eaton, Jonathan, 1990. "Debt Relief and the International Enforcement of Loan Contracts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 43-56, Winter.
  10. Patrick Bolton & Howard Rosenthal, 2002. "Political Intervention in Debt Contracts," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(5), pages 1103-1134, October.
  11. Gine, Xavier & Townsend, Robert & Vickery, James, 2007. "Patternsof rainfall insurance participation in rural India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4408, The World Bank.
  12. Song Han & Geng Li, 2009. "Household borrowing after personal bankruptcy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2009-17, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. Jensen, Michael C. & Meckling, William H., 1976. "Theory of the firm: Managerial behavior, agency costs and ownership structure," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 305-360, October.
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