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Financial inclusion and poverty: The role of relative income

Linyang Li

China Economic Review, 2018, vol. 52, issue C, 165-191

Abstract: Using the Chinese Household Finance Survey data set, the study shows that concern with relative income significantly stimulates poor households to apply for bank credit. The effect of income comparisons on credit applications can be explained by either a “keeping up with the Joneses” effect, in which the poor seek financing for costly consumption to emulate the wealthy's consumption style and thus suffer persistent poverty, or else a “tunnel” effect, in which the poor are inspired by the wealthy's economic success and enlightened to use credit for investment. Although this study provides no empirical evidence of a “keeping up” effect, it reveals that credit applicants invest significantly more in human capital than non-applicants, and it demonstrates that the “tunnel” effect is the primary incentive for relatively poor households to participate in the credit market. Poor households are capable of using finance to escape from poverty.

Keywords: Financial inclusion; Poverty; Relative income; Tunnel effect (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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China Economic Review is currently edited by B.M. Fleisher, K. X. D. Huang, M.E. Lovely, Y. Wen, X. Zhang and X. Zhu

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