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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
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6258
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  1. Jeremy A.Rogoff Bulow & Kenneth, 1986. "A Constant Recontracting Model of Sovereign Debt," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 43, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  2. Myers, Stewart C., 1977. "Determinants of corporate borrowing," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(2), pages 147-175, November.
  3. 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.
  4. John Y. Campbell, 2006. "Household Finance," NBER Working Papers 12149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Shawn Cole & Xavier Giné & Jeremy Tobacman & Petia Topalova & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2009. "Barriers to household risk management: evidence from India," Staff Reports 373, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
  6. Ulf von Lilienfeld‐Toal & Dilip Mookherjee & Sujata Visaria, 2012. "The Distributive Impact of Reforms in Credit Enforcement: Evidence From Indian Debt Recovery Tribunals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 80(2), pages 497-558, 03.
  7. 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.
  8. Xavier Giné & Robert Townsend & James Vickery, 2008. "Patterns of Rainfall Insurance Participation in Rural India," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 22(3), pages 539-566, October.
  9. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Andrew F. Newman, 1990. "Occupational Choice and the Process of Development," Discussion Papers 911, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.).
  12. Ian Domowitz & Robert L. Sartain, 1999. "Determinants of the Consumer Bankruptcy Decision," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 54(1), pages 403-420, 02.
  13. Paul R. Krugman, 1988. "Financing vs. Forgiving a Debt Overhang," NBER Working Papers 2486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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