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Collective action and community development : evidence from self-help groups in rural India


  • Desai, Raj M.
  • Joshi, Shareen


In response to the problems of high coordination costs among the poor, efforts are underway in many countries to organize the poor through"self-help groups"(SHGs) -- membership-based organizations that aim to promote social cohesion through a mixture of education, access to finance, and linkages to wider development programs. The authors randomly selected 32 of 80 villages in one of the poorest districts in rural India in which to establish SHGs for women. Two years of exposure to these programs increased women's participation in group savings programs as well as the non-agricultural labor force. Compared to women in control villages, treated women were also more likely to participate in household decisions and engage in civic activities. The authors find no evidence however, that participation increased income or had a disproportionate impact by women's socio-economic status. These results are important in light of the recent effort to expand official support to SHGs under the National Rural Livelihood Mission.

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  • Desai, Raj M. & Joshi, Shareen, 2013. "Collective action and community development : evidence from self-help groups in rural India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6547, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6547

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    2. Paolo Casini & Lore Vandewalle & Zaki Wahhaj, 2017. "Public Good Provision in Indian Rural Areas: The Returns to Collective Action by Microfinance Groups," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(1), pages 97-128.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ban,Radu & Gilligan,Michael J. & Rieger,Matthias, 2015. "Self-help groups, savings and social capital : evidence from a field experiment in Cambodia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7382, The World Bank.
    2. Jean-Marie Baland & Rohini Somanathan & Lore Vandewalle, 2011. "Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Microfinance in India," Working Papers 1117, University of Namur, Department of Economics.
    3. Vandewalle, Lore, 2017. "The Role of Accountants in Indian Self-Help Groups: A Trade-off between Financial and Non-Financial Benefits," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 177-192.
    4. Olofsgård, Anders, 2012. "The Politics of Aid Effectiveness: Why Better Tools can Make for Worse Outcomes," SITE Working Paper Series 16, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics.
    5. Paolo Casini & Lore Vandewalle & Zaki Wahhaj, 2017. "Public Good Provision in Indian Rural Areas: The Returns to Collective Action by Microfinance Groups," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 31(1), pages 97-128.
    6. Lata Gangadharan & Tarun Jain & Pushkar Maitra & Joseph Vecci, 2016. "The behavioural implications of women's empowerment programmes," WIDER Working Paper Series 064, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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    Access to Finance; Primary Education; Housing&Human Habitats; Population Policies; Social Accountability;

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