Missing: Hard Data and Analysis on Microcredit

Missing: Hard Data and Analysis on Microcredit

Microfinance's global acclaim has been fueled, in part, by anecdotes about cash-strapped micro-entrepreneurs propelled out of poverty by bits of extra cash in the form of microloans. But research by NYU Wagner's Professor of Public Policy and Economics Jonathan Morduch shows that little actually is known about the magnitude of very poor people who benefit from microloans -- or to what degree. The evidence that does exist, meanwhile, is flawed.

Professor Morduch is a leading microfinance expert, the co-author of the 2005 book "The Economics of Microfinance" (MIT Press), and lead researcher of the NYU Wagner-based Financial Access Initiative supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. On January 21, 2008, he delivered a Distinguished Lecture hosted by the Center for Analytical Finance of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad. Entitled "Microfinance: The Next Capitalist Revolution?", the presentation focused on expanding concepts of microfinance to meet the needs of the next generation of unbanked customers. The lecture focused on consumer finance, livelihoods strategies, and the roles of the private and poverty sector.

While in India, Professor Morduch also delivered presentations at the Reserve Bank of India, the Delhi School of Economics, and the National Council on Applied Economic Research.

Professor Morduch also visited Japan in December, 2007, where he gave the keynote speech at a symposium on microfinance attended by academics, policymakers, and bankers, held at the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. He delivered talks at Kobe University, the University of Tokyo, and the Ministry of Finance.

Friday, February 1, 2008, Professor Morduch discusses his groundbreaking new paper, "How Can the Poor Afford Microfinance," at the First Annual Forum on Financial Access, hosted at New York University by the Financial Access Initiative. The conference, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., includes a student debate competition moderated by a senior writer and editor from The Economist and discussions by leading experts on microfinance and poverty. For further information, click below.


MUP Student at Wagner Wins Soros Fellowship for New Americans

MUP Student at Wagner Wins Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Leda DeRosa, who is pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning (MUP) at NYU Wagner, has been selected as a recipient of a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. She is one of 30 winners of the 2013 national competition, chosen from more than 1,050 applicants.

New Americans Fellows are selected on the basis of individual merit and promise - individuals who seem best-positioned to make a distinctive contribution to some aspect of American life. Clearly, Leda fits the bill.

Born in Korea, raised in Connecticut, Leda has a keen desire to work in underserved communities. This, she notes, arises from her complex immigrant and minority identities.

Leda graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, and was supported with scholarships and part-time jobs. She subsequently worked as a corporate legal assistant for a major New York-based international law firm and as Associate Director of an African-American think tank affiliated with Columbia Law School.

Each Fellow receives tuition and stipend assistance of up to $90,000 in support of graduate education in this country.  The full slate of immigrant and academic stories can be found in all of its remarkable diversity here: 2013 Fellows' Bios.

New Report Explores Technology and the Nonprofit Sector

New Report Explores Technology and the Nonprofit Sector

The Aspen Insitute today released a new report in Washington, D.C., by NYU Wagner Visiting Professor Beth Noveck and Daniel L. Goroff. The report, "Information for Impact: Liberating Nonprofit Sector Data," shows how new technology designed to improve data on the nonprofit sector can prompt greater innovation and effectiveness.

Noveck is former director of the White House Open Government Initiative. Goroff, while at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, helped establish the new Interagency Task Force on Smart Disclosure. He is a program director with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.


New Study Calculates Economic Benefits of Eliminating Bisphenol A (BPA) from all Food and Beverage Containers

New Study Calculates Economic Benefits of Eliminating Bisphenol A (BPA) from all Food and Beverage Containers

A newly published article in Health Affairs by Professor Leonardo Trasande calculates the economic benefits of replacing bisphenol A (BPA) -- a chemical already banned from baby bottles and sippy cups by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- with a safer substitute in the production of all food and beverage containers.

Putting aside the social costs linked to the presence of BPA in both edible and non-food products, such as elevated obesity and coronary heart disease, the study finds that the economic savings of replacing the chemical with a less-risky substitute would be sizable. It adds that the savings from the move would outweigh the expense.

The article is entitled “Further Limiting Bisphenol A In Food Uses Could Provide Health And Economic Benefits” and appears in the journal's January issue.

Professor Trasande is an associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine, and health policy at the NYU School of Medicine  and holds faculty appointments at Wagner as well as the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

New Study Co-Authored by Prof. John Billings Shows Who Uses Emergency Departments Frequently

New Study Co-Authored by Prof. John Billings Shows Who Uses Emergency Departments Frequently

           While it has often been said that the most frequent users of overburdened hospital emergency departments are mentally ill substance abusers, a study out today (Dec. 3) by researchers from NYU Wagner and the University of California, San Francisco, has found that this belief is unfounded – an “urban legend.”

            Co-authored by John Billings of NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Maria C. Raven of the University of California and published in the December issue of Health Affairs, the new analysis of hospital emergency department (ED) use in New York City by Medicaid patients reveals that conditions related to substance abuse and mental illness are responsible for a small share of the emergency department visits by frequent ED users, and that ED use accounts for a small portion of these patients’ total Medicaid expenditures. However, according to the study, frequent emergency department users have a substantial burden of disease, often having multiple chronic conditions and many hospitalizations.

           The article, “Dispelling an Urban Legend: Frequent Emergency Department Users Have Substantial Burden of Disease,” analyzes data on emergency department visits by 212,259 New York City residents who received their first emergency department care in 2007. The researchers reviewed each patient’s eligibility, ED use, Medicaid fee-for-service spending, and diagnostic history. The main part of the analysis covers the three years before each patient’s first visit to a hospital emergency department, the 12 months after the initial visit, and the subsequent two years. As the authors write, “contrary to urban legend, most repeat users in the study did appear to have relatively strong linkage to ambulatory care, at least as evidenced by their high rates of primary and specialty care visits. Except for ED users with ten or more visits in the index [initial] year, ambulatory care visit rates actually exceeded ED visit rates.”

          While hospital emergency department use is not a major cost driver for the Medicaid program, an improved understanding of Medicaid beneficiaries who frequently obtain ED care could help inform the current policy debate over how to meet the significant needs of this population and how to contain Medicaid expenditures, according to the researchers.

          Importantly, the analysis indicates that “predictive modeling” based on information provided at a patient’s initial ED visit could be used to identify individuals likely to return to theemergency department frequently. Billings and Raven write that the predictive modeling approach, coupled with an understanding of the characteristics of frequent ED users, offers health care institutions an opportunity to design targeted, cross-system health care interventions to keep future high users from having to return to the hospital for emergency care.

         “It is also important to note that only a small number of ‘frequent fliers’ are ultra-high ED users or serial high ED users, with frequent ED use year after year,” Billings and Raven assert. “To date, most thinking by providers and policy makers about the problem of frequent ED users has focused on these serial users, but the overwhelming majority of frequent users have only episodic periods of high ED use, instead of consistent use over multiple years. More needs to be learned about these patients (they, too, could be interviewed in the ED), and predictive modeling and quick intervention will probably be critical since their repeat ED use is unlikely to continue over time.”

         To learn more about Professor Billings' study, see "Who's Crowding the ER" on the NYU public affairs website.


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