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The Impact of Population Mobility on repayment Rates in Microfinance Institutions

By Allison Vernerey

Several studies have attempted to model the determinants of repayment rates for group-based loans administered by micro-finance institutions (MFIs). One of the main variables that have been identifies as playing a role in determining the repayment rate is social capital. Empirical research however has struggled with quantifying this qualitative variable, resulting in vast inconsistencies across studies, aggravating cross-comparison and objective interpretation. Instead, we argue that the use of quantitative, cross-country comparable proxy that is intuitively linked to social capital would yield more consistent and reliable results. We hypothesize that population mobility is such a proxy, and that lower population mobility correlates positively with higher social capital and thus higher repayment rates. Using population mobility as a proxy for social capital would allow MFIs to lower their cost of data collection for performance assessments and simplify the process for policy makers trying to evaluate the programs success. At the village level, we find significant evidence that higher emigration within a community is strongly linked to lower repayment rates in micro-finance. These results provide micro-finance institutions with a new and more cost effective way to monitor their performance as well as improve their capacity to make well-informed lending decisions.

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Advisor: Genna Miller | JEL Codes: G, G2, G21 | Tagged: Bangladash, Microfinance Institutions, Population Mobility, Repayment Rates, Social Capital

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