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Do Women Gain from Access to Microcredit? The Long Run Effects of a Field Experiment in Bangladesh
Last registered on July 09, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Do Women Gain from Access to Microcredit? The Long Run Effects of a Field Experiment in Bangladesh
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004377
Initial registration date
June 24, 2019
Last updated
July 09, 2019 1:52 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
State University of New York (Binghamton) & Harvard University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Binghamton University
PI Affiliation
Binghamton University
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2012-06-01
End date
2020-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Recent randomized control trial studies find little or no effect of microcredit on investments in education or health, or on women’s decision-making power (Banerjee et. al 2016). In contrast, Pitt et al (2003) and Pitt, Khandker and Cartwright (2006), in examining non-random access to microcredit in Bangladesh in the 1990s, do find that credit provided to women helps to increase women’s empowerment, reduces malnutrition in children, and has large positive effects on relative changes in children’s health. They find credit provided to men has no significant effect. However, these studies use structural estimation techniques to identify effects. Given the non-experimental nature of these studies, questions have been raised about the robustness of the findings (Roodman and Morduch 2009; Duvendack and Palmer-Jones 2012; Roodman and Morduch 2014). An important question is whether the difference in findings is due to the short run nature of recent experimental field studies compared with the Bangladeshi study, the specifics of Bangladesh versus other locations, or the difference in identification strategies (Roodman and Morduch 2014). This project seeks to address this question by collecting follow-up data on a clustered randomized control trial of a credit program targeted towards farm microenterprises in Bangladesh, successfully implemented by BRAC in 2012. This follow-up study will be conducted in coordination with BRAC. It will allow us to measure the long run impact of women’s access to microcredit on health and educational investment, health-related outcomes of women and children, and on three different aspects of women’s empowerment–economic, demographic and psychological. This project will contribute to understanding the important issue of the linkage between women’s access to credit and improvements in health and educational outcomes, and women’s empowerment. Most importantly, the collaboration with a development agency involved in the actual implementation of development policies will imply an immediate integration of research results into policy guidelines and development programs.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Hanes, Christopher, Nusrat Jimi and Plamen Nikolov. 2019. "Do Women Gain from Access to Microcredit? The Long Run Effects of a Field Experiment in Bangladesh." AEA RCT Registry. July 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4377-2.0
Former Citation
Hanes, Christopher, Nusrat Jimi and Plamen Nikolov. 2019. "Do Women Gain from Access to Microcredit? The Long Run Effects of a Field Experiment in Bangladesh." AEA RCT Registry. July 09. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4377/history/49581
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Empirical evidence suggests that when transfer payments are given to women rather than to their husbands, expenditures on children increase (Duflo 2003, Qian 2008, Bobonis 2009, Duflo 2012). The conventional interpretation of this fact is that women and men have different preferences, in the sense that women attach more weight to children’s welfare (Doepke, M. and Tertilt, M., 2011). This belief has led to a trend in development policy to channel more resources towards women and, more generally, to promote improvements in the empowerment of women as an effective spur to economic development.

Microcredit schemes are a widely used development policy tool that aims to improve the economic and living conditions of its clients. Most of the microcredit interventions have been directed exclusively at women in part because of the presumed link between female empowerment and the general well-being of the household, especially the children. However, there is limited empirical support of a positive link between women’s access to credit and either health and educational outcomes of women and children, or women’s empowerment. Recent randomized control trial studies find little or no effect of microcredit on investments in education or health, or on women’s decision-making power (Banerjee et. al 2016). In contrast, Pitt et al (2003) and Pitt, Khandker and Cartwright (2006), in examining non-random access to microcredit in Bangladesh in the 1990s, do find that credit provided to women helps to increase women’s empowerment, reduces malnutrition in children, and has large positive effects on relative changes in children’s health. They find credit provided to men has no significant effect. However, these studies use structural estimation techniques to identify effects. Given the non-experimental nature of these studies, questions have been raised about the robustness of the findings (Roodman and Morduch 2009; Duvendack and Palmer-Jones 2012; Roodman and Morduch 2014). An important question is whether the difference in findings is due to the short run nature of recent experimental field studies compared with the Bangladeshi study, the specifics of Bangladesh versus other locations, or the difference in identification strategies (Roodman and Morduch 2014).

In this project, we propose to address this question by providing a long run analysis of a randomized control trial in Bangladesh. We propose collecting follow-up data on a clustered randomized control trial of a credit program targeted towards farm microenterprises in Bangladesh, successfully implemented by BRAC in 2012. This would allow us to measure the long run impact of women’s access to microcredit on health and educational investment, and health-related outcomes of women and children. We will also be able to examine the effect on three different aspects of women’s empowerment.

The study’s broader impacts are to increase understanding, strengthen collaborations between academics and institutions, and improve teaching. Most importantly, the research team will partner with BRAC, the largest NGO in the world. This partnership will facilitate the integration of research results into policy guidelines and microenterprise development programs which have the potential to improve lives worldwide. More generally, upon completion of the study, the data will be made available to the public.
Intervention Start Date
2012-06-01
Intervention End Date
2020-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
health investments, education investments, empowerment (psychological, economic, reproductive health) of women, household bargaining
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
In 2009, BRAC introduced a Tenant Farmers Development Project known as Borga Chashi Unnayan Prakalpa (BCUP). The main objective of the BCUP program was to reduce the dependence of tenant farmers on high-cost informal markets for financing their working capital needs. Tenant farmers are typically bypassed by conventional microfinance institutions and the formal banking sector, resulting in a lack of working capital, and thus restricted access to inputs and lower productivity (Hossain and Bayes 2009). By reducing the credit constraints faced by these farmers, the BCUP program aimed to significantly improve farm productivity, and thus the livelihoods of rural small-scale farm households in Bangladesh.

BCUP provides a customized credit service based on the proprietary composition of the recipient farms, that is, pure tenant, mixed tenant, or pure owner.

The BCUP program was established under a clustered randomized control trial design. Initially, the program identified 40 potential sub-district/branch offices for program scale-up in 2012. The research team randomly selected 20 treatment branch offices for intervention, while the other 20 branches were designated as control branch offices. Then, we randomly selected six of the 10–12 villages within an eight-kilometer radius of each BCUP branch office. The eight-kilometer radius was chosen because BRAC branch offices usually operate within this area for administrative purposes. The sub-district/branch is the first unit of randomization, followed by the village/community. As each branch is located in a different sub-district, and each sub-district is a separate government administrative unit with a well-known geographical boundary, contamination between the treatment and control BCUP branches is unlikely. Figure 2 provides a spatial overview of the treatment and control areas. It can be seen that most of the treatment branches were sufficiently distant from control branches.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
cluster randomization by a computer
Randomization Unit
branch level
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
40 branches
Sample size: planned number of observations
Follow-up of approximately 2,000 individuals.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Follow-up of approximately 2,000 individuals divided evenly by branch.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Binghamton University
IRB Approval Date
2019-04-05
IRB Approval Number
STUDY00001429