Credit is Not a Right

Credit is Not a Right
in Microfinance, Rights, and Global Justice (edited by Tom Sorell and Luis Cabrera). Cambridge University Press.

Gershman, John and Jonathan Morduch

Muhammad Yunus, the microcredit pioneer, has proposed that access to credit should be a human right. We approach the question by drawing on fieldwork and empirical scholarship in political science and economics. Evidence shows that access to credit may be powerful for some people some of the time, but it is not powerful for everyone all of the time, and in some cases it can do damage. Yunus’s claim for the power of credit access has yet to be widely verified, and most rigorous studies find microcredit impacts that fall far short of the kinds of empirical assertions on which his proposal rests. We discuss ways that expanding the domain of rights can diminish the power of existing rights, and we argue for a right to non-discrimination in credit access, rather than a right to credit access itself.


Renting in America’s Largest Cities

Renting in America’s Largest Cities
Conducted by the NYU Furman Center & commissioned by Capital One National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape

Sean Capperis, Ingrid Gould Ellen, and Brian Karfunkel

The supply of affordable rental housing failed to keep pace with demand in the 11 largest U.S. cities while rents rose faster than household incomes in five of the them. The NYU Furman Center/Capital One National Affordable Housing Landscape examines rental housing affordability trends in the central cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta and Miami) from 2006 to 2013 and illustrates how these trends affected renters as more households chose to rent amid rising rental costs.

Nine of the 11 largest U.S. cities have seen falling vacancy rates and rising rents, which are hurting lower- and middle-income renters. “Affordable” rent should comprise less than 30 percent of a household’s income. With the exception of Dallas and Houston, the average renter in each metropolitan area could not afford the majority of recently available rental units in their city. The cities were even less affordable to low-income renters, who could afford no more than 11 percent of recently available units in the most affordable cities.

Since 2006, there has been an increase in the share of low- and moderate-income renters who are severely rent-burdened— meaning they face rent and utility costs equal to at least half of their income. In 2013, over a quarter of moderate-income renters were severely rent-burdened in seven of the cities in the study, while a significant majority of low-income renters in all 11 cities were severely rent-burdened. The percentage of low-income renters facing severe rent-burdens continued to rise in each of these cities and low-income renters are often most acutely impacted by the lack of affordable housing.

The study also found that in five cities, the proportion of moderate-income renters experiencing severe rent burdens grew remarkably, while in other cities, the situation for moderate-income renters either changed little or even improved.

Health and Health Care in BRIC Cities: Ideas for Collaborative Research.

Health and Health Care in BRIC Cities: Ideas for Collaborative Research.
Working Paper

Rodwin, VG.

Available on SSRN database here.

The largest cities in the wealthy nations all face an unprecedented challenge: how to meet the needs of a population that lives longer, has a declining birth rate, is generally healthier, but also increasingly beset by the rise of chronic illness. The World Cities Project (WCP) has produced two books and numerous articles based on comparisons among, and within five of the world's most dynamic cities: New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Hong Kong. These cities are centres of economic growth and finance, culture and media, sophisticated transportation systems and innovations of all kinds. They are renowned for their centres of excellence in medical care, top-ranking medical schools, institutes of bio-medical research, and public health infrastructure. Likewise, they attract some of the wealthiest, as well as the poorest populations of their nations, which forces their health care systems to confront the challenge of confronting glaring inequalities and redesigning their health care systems.

Application of global positioning system methods for the study of obesity and hypertension risk among low-income housing residents in New York City: a spatial feasibility study

Application of global positioning system methods for the study of obesity and hypertension risk among low-income housing residents in New York City: a spatial feasibility study
Geospatial Health, Vol. 9, no. 1, pp. 57-70. DOI:

Duncan, D.T., S.D. Regan, D. Shelley, K. Day, R.R. Ruff, M. Al-Bayan, and B. Elbel

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using global positioning system (GPS) methods to understand the spatial context of obesity and hypertension risk among a sample of low-income housing residents in New York City (n = 120). GPS feasibility among participants was measured with a pre- and post-survey as well as adherence to a protocol which included returning the GPS device as well as objective data analysed from the GPS devices. We also conducted qualitative interviews with 21 of the participants. Most of the sample was overweight (26.7%) or obese (40.0%). Almost one-third (30.8%) was pre-hypertensive and 39.2% was hypertensive. Participants reported high ratings of GPS acceptability, ease of use and low levels of wear-related concerns in addition to few concerns related to safety, loss or appearance, which were maintained after the baseline GPS feasibility data collection. Results show that GPS feasibility increased over time. The overall GPS return rate was 95.6%. Out of the total of 114 participants with GPS, 112 (98.2%) delivered at least one hour of GPS data for one day and 84 (73.7%) delivered at least one hour on 7 or more days. The qualitative interviews indicated that overall, participants enjoyed wearing the GPS devices, that they were easy to use and charge and that they generally forgot about the GPS device when wearing it daily. Findings demonstrate that GPS devices may be used in spatial epidemiology research in low-income and potentially other key vulnerable populations to understand geospatial determinants of obesity, hypertension and other diseases that these populations disproportionately experience.

What Can We Learn from Impact Assessments?

What Can We Learn from Impact Assessments?
“What Can We Learn from Impact Assessments?” Chapter 4 in Practical Guide to Impact Assessments of Microinsurance. Edited by Ralf Rademacher and Katja Roth. Microinsurance Network. 2014.

Bauchet, Jonathan and Jonathan Morduch and Shamika Ravi

This chapter introduces the basics of quantitative impact assessments. The context is microinsurance, but the lessons apply more broadly. The chapter covers seletion bias, control groups, randomization, statistical power, internal validity, and external validity.

Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City

Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. June 2014 Fact Brief.

NYU Furman Center

Rent Stabilization is a New York State law that restricts how much rents in certain residential housing units can increase annually. The law generally applies to buildings constructed prior to 1974 that have six or more units, or to buildings that opt into the program in exchange for certain public subsidies. Rent Stabilization protects tenants from sharp increases in rents and protects their right to renew their leases.

In 2011, rent stabilized units comprised nearly one million units of housing in New York City—roughly 45 percent the city’s rental housing stock. Stabilized units house many low-income residents across New York City; roughly 66 percent of tenants living in rent-stabilized units were considered low-income in 2011.

This Fact Brief is an update to the NYU Furman Center’s April 2012 publication, Rent Stabilization in New York City. The data in this brief remain the most recent available from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey. Data from the 2014 Housing and Vacancy Survey are expected to released next year.

The global cancer divide: relationships between national healthcare resources and cancer outcomes in high-income vs. middle- and low-income countries

The global cancer divide: relationships between national healthcare resources and cancer outcomes in high-income vs. middle- and low-income countries
Journal of Epidemiology & Global Health, Vol 4, no. 2, pp. 115-124. DOI: 10.1016/j.jegh.2013.10.004

Batouli, A., P. Jahanshahi, C.P. Gross, D.V. Makarov, and J.B.Yu

Background: Cancer continues to rise as a contributor to premature death in the developing world. Despite this, little is known about whether cancer outcomes are related to a country’s income level, and what aspects of national healthcare systems are associated with improved cancer outcomes.

Methods: The most recent estimates of cancer incidence and mortality were used to calculate mortality-to-incidence ratio (MIR) for the 85 countries with reliable data. Countries were categorized according to high-income (Gross Domestic Product (GDP) > $15,000) or middle/low-income (GDP < $15,000), and a multivariate linear regression model was used to determine the association between healthcare system indicators and cancer MIR. Indicators study included per capita GDP, overall total healthcare expenditure (THE), THE as a proportion of GDP, total external beam radiotherapy devices (TEBD) per capita, physician density, and the year 2000 WHO healthcare system rankings.

Results: Cancer MIR in high-income countries (0.47) was significantly lower than that of middle/low-income countries (0.64), with a p < 0.001. In high-income countries, GDP, health expenditure and TEBD showed significant inverse correlations with overall cancer MIR. A $3040 increase in GDP (p = 0.004), a $379 increase in THE (p < 0.001), or an increase of 0.59 TEBD per 100,000 population (p = 0.027) were all associated with a 0.01 decrease in cancer MIR. In middle/low-income countries, only WHO scores correlated with decreased cancer MIR (p = 0.022); 12 specific cancer types also showed similar significant correlations (p < 0.05) as overall cancer MIR.

Conclusions: The analysis of this study suggested that cancer MIR is greater in middle/low-income countries. Furthermore, the WHO healthcare score was associated with improved cancer outcomes in middle/low-income countries while absolute levels of financial resources and infrastructure played a more important role in high-income countries.

Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects

Where, When, Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects
Annual Review of Sociology. 2014. 40:559–79. 10.1146/annurev-soc-071913-043350

Sharkey, P., and J. Faber

The literature on neighborhood effect frequently is evaluated or interpreted in relation to the question, "Do neighborhoods matter?" We argue that this question has had a disproportionate influence on the field and does not align with the complexity of theoretical models of neighborhood effects or empirical findings that have arisen from the literature. In this article, we focus on empirical work that considers how different dimensions of individuals' residential contexts become salient in their lives, how contexts influence individuals' lives over different timeframes, how individuals are affected by social processes operating at different scales, and how residential contexts influence the lives of individuals in heterogeneous ways. In other words, we review research that examines where, when, why, and for whom do residential contexts matter. Using the large literature on neighborhoods and educational and cognitive outcomes as an example, the research we review suggests that any attempt to reduce the literature to a single answer about whether neighborhoods matter is misguided. We call for a more flexible study of context effects in which theory, measurement, and methods are more closely aligned with the specific mechanisms and social processes under study.


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