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High Noon for Microfinance Impact Evaluations: Re-investigating the Evidence from Bangladesh

Maren Duvendack and Richard Palmer-Jones

Journal of Development Studies, 2012, vol. 48, issue 12, 1864-1880

Abstract: Recently, microfinance has come under increasing criticism raising questions of the validity of iconic studies which have justified it, such as Pitt and Khandker. Chemin applied propensity score matching to the Pitt and Khandker data, finding different impacts, but does not disaggregate by gender of borrower. We first replicate Chemin and extend his analysis in two ways. We test the robustness of propensity score matching results to selection on unobservables using sensitivity analysis, and we investigate propensity score matching estimates of impacts by gender of borrowers. The mainly insignificant impacts of microfinance differ greatly by gender of borrower, but are all vulnerable to selection on unobservables. We are therefore not convinced that the relationships between microfinance and outcomes are causal with these data.

Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2011.646989

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