Narrowing the Gender Gap in Mobile Banking

Jean N. Lee, Jonathan Morduch, Saravana Ravindran, and Abu S. Shonchoy
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization

Mobile banking and related digital financial technologies can make financial services cheaper and more widely accessible in low-income economies, but gender gaps persist. We present evidence from two connected field experiments in Bangladesh designed to encourage the adoption and use of mobile banking by poor, illiterate households. The study focuses on migrants who live in Dhaka and send money back to their extended families. Despite large differences between female and male migrants in income and education, the first experiment shows that a training program led to similarly large, positive impacts on mobile banking use by female migrants (a 51 percentage point increase) and male migrants (46 percentage point increase), substantially narrowing the gender gap. However, the increases in adoption did not lead to similar patterns in usage: men increased digital remittances by 11 times as much as women. A second experiment tests whether introducing the technology in the context of family networks made an additional difference to gender gaps. The evidence suggests an 11 percentage point increase in adoption by women and just a 1 percentage point increase by men, although statistical power is low for this comparison and estimates are imprecise.

Wagner Faculty