Economic Development

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. May 2009

Collins, D., Morduch, J., Rutherford, S. & Ruthven, O.
05/01/2009

About forty percent of the world's people live on incomes of two dollars a day or less. If you've never had to survive on an income so small, it is hard to imagine. How would you put food on the table, afford a home, and educate your children? How would you handle emergencies and old age? Every day, more than a billion people around the world must answer these questions. Portfolios of the Poor is the first book to explain systematically how the poor find solutions.

The authors report on the yearlong "financial diaries" of villagers and slum dwellers in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa--records that track penny by penny how specific households manage their money. The stories of these families are often surprising and inspiring. Most poor households do not live hand to mouth, spending what they earn in a desperate bid to keep afloat. Instead, they employ financial tools, many linked to informal networks and family ties. They push money into savings for reserves, squeeze money out of creditors whenever possible, run sophisticated savings clubs, and use microfinancing wherever available. Their experiences reveal new methods to fight poverty and ways to envision the next generation of banks for the "bottom billion."

Microfinance Meets the Market

Microfinance Meets the Market
February Journal of Economic Perspectives 23(1), Winter:  167-192.

Morduch, J., Cull, R. & Demirguc-Kunt, A.
02/01/2009

In this paper, we examine the economic logic behind microfinance institutions and consider the movement from socially oriented nonprofit microfinance institutions to for-profit microfinance. Drawing on a large dataset that includes most of the world's leading microfinance institutions, we explore eight questions about the microfinance "industry": Who are the lenders? How widespread is profitability? Are loans in fact repaid at the high rates advertised? Who are the customers? Why are interest rates so high? Are profits high enough to attract profit-maximizing investors? How important are subsidies? The evidence suggests that investors seeking pure profits would have little interest in most of the institutions we see that are now serving poorer customers. We will suggest that the future of microfinance is unlikely to follow a single path. The recent clash between supporters of profit-driven Banco Compartamos and of the Grameen Bank with its "social business" model offers us a false choice. Commercial investment is necessary to fund the continued expansion of microfinance, but institutions with strong social missions, many taking advantage of subsidies, remain best placed to reach and serve the poorest customers, and some are doing so at a massive scale. The market is a powerful force, but it cannot fill all gaps.

The Unbanked: Evidence from Indonesia

The Unbanked: Evidence from Indonesia
October   World Bank Economic Review 22(3): 517-537

Morduch, J. & Jonston Jr., D.
10/01/2008

To analyze the prospects for expanding financial access to the poor, bank professionals assessed 1,438 households in six provinces in Indonesia to judge their creditworthiness. About 40 percent of poor households were judged creditworthy according to the criteria of Indonesia's largest microfinance bank, but fewer than 10 percent had recently borrowed from a microbank or formal lender. Possessing collateral appeared as a minor determinant of creditworthiness, in keeping with microfinance innovations. Although these households were judged able to service loans reliably, most desired small loans. Calculations show that the bank, given its current fee structure and banking practices, would lose money when lending at the scales desired. So, while innovations have helped to extend financial access, it remains difficult to lend in small amounts and cover costs.

Equity and Accountability: The Impact of State Accountability Systems on School Finance

Equity and Accountability: The Impact of State Accountability Systems on School Finance
Journal of Public Budgeting & Finance, 28 (3): 1-22

Rubenstein, R. & Ballal, S., Stiefel, L., Schwartz, A.E.
01/01/2008

Using an 11-year panel data set containing information on revenues, expenditures, and demographics for every school district in the United States, we examine the effects of state-adopted school accountability systems on the adequacy and equity of school resources. We find little relationship between state implementation of accountability systems and changes in school finance equity, though we do find evidence that states in which courts overturned the school finance system during the decade exhibited significant equity improvements. Additionally, while implementation of accountability per se does not appear linked to changes in resource adequacy, states that implemented strong accountability systems did experience improvements.

Local Revenues under Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: Linking Policy Reform, Governance and Capacity

Local Revenues under Fiscal Decentralization in Developing Countries: Linking Policy Reform, Governance and Capacity
In G. Ingram and Y. Hong (eds) Fiscal Decentralization and Land Policies (Cambridge, MA:  Lincoln Institute of land Policy Press)

Smoke, P.
01/01/2008

Micro-Credit

Micro-Credit
New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Second Edition.  Palgrave Macmillan. 2008

Morduch, J. & Durlauf, S., Blume, L.
01/01/2008

Written by 1506 eminent contributors, this new edition of The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics retains many classic essays of enduring importance and contains 1,872 articles. Published in eight print volumes and for the first time in online format, this is the definitive scholarly reference work for a new generation of economists.

Neighborhood Selection and the Social Reproduction of Concentrated Racial Inequality

Neighborhood Selection and the Social Reproduction of Concentrated Racial Inequality
Demography, Feb 2008, Vol. 45 Issue 1, p1-29, 29p.

Sampson, R.J. & Sharkey, P.
01/01/2008

In this paper, we consider neighborhood selection as a social process central to the reproduction of racial inequality in neighborhood attainment. We formulate a multilevel model that decomposes multiple sources of stability and change in longitudinal trajectories of achieved neighborhood income among nearly 4,000 Chicago families followed for up to seven years wherever they moved in the United States. Even after we adjust for a comprehensive set of fixed and time-varying covariates, racial inequality in neighborhood attainment is replicated by movers and stayers alike. We also study the emergent consequences of mobility pathways for neighborhood-level structure. The temporal sorting by individuals of different racial and ethnic groups combines to yield a structural pattern of flows between neighborhoods that generates virtually nonoverlapping income distributions and little exchange between minority and white areas. Selection and racially shaped hierarchies are thus mutually constituted and account for an apparent equilibrium of neighborhood inequality.

Power Reduces the Press of the Situation: Implications for Creativity, Conformity, and Dissonance

Power Reduces the Press of the Situation: Implications for Creativity, Conformity, and Dissonance
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95, 1450-1466/

Galinsky, A.D., Magee, J.C., Gruenfeld, D.H., Whitson, J. & Liljenquist, K.
01/01/2008

Although power is often conceptualized as the capacity to influence others, the current research explores whether power psychologically protects people from influence. In contrast to classic social psychological research demonstrating the strength of the situation in directing attitudes, expressions, and intentions, five experiments (using experiential primes, semantic primes, and role manipulations of power) demonstrate that the powerful (a) generate creative ideas that are less influenced by salient examples, (b) express attitudes that conform less to the expressed opinions of others, (c) are more influenced by their own social value orientation relative to the reputation of a negotiating partner, and (d) perceive greater choice in making counterattitudinal statements. This last experiment illustrates that power is not always psychologically liberating; it can create internal conflict, arousing dissonance, and thereby lead to attitude change. Across the experiments, high-power participants were immune to the typical press of situations, with intrapsychic processes having greater sway than situational or interpersonal ones on their creative and attitudinal expressions.

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