New Economics Papers
on Microfinance
Issue of 2009‒01‒31
three papers chosen by
Aastha Pudasainee and Olivier Dagnelie

  1. Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya By Pascaline Dupas; Jonathan Robinson
  2. Pension Coverage and Informal Sector Workers: International Experiences By Yu-Wei Hu; Fiona Stewart
  3. A Game Theoretic Approach to Analyse Cooperation between Rural Households in Northern Nigeria By Gerichhausen, M.; Berkhout, E.D.; Hamers, H.J.M.; Manyong, V.M.

  1. By: Pascaline Dupas; Jonathan Robinson
    Abstract: This paper presents results from a field experiment designed to test whether savings constraints prevent the self-employed from increasing the size of their businesses. We opened interest-free savings accounts in a local village bank in rural Kenya for a randomly selected sample of poor daily income earners (such as market vendors), and collected a unique dataset constructed from self-reported logbooks that respondents filled on a daily basis. Despite the fact that the savings accounts paid no interest and featured substantial withdrawal fees, take-up and usage was high among women. In addition, we find that the savings accounts had substantial, positive impacts on productive investment levels and expenditures for women, but had no effect for men. These results imply that a substantial fraction of daily income earners face important savings constraints and have a demand for formal saving devices (even for those that offer negative de facto interest rates). We also find some suggestive evidence that female entrepreneurs draw down their working capital in response to health shocks, and that the accounts enabled the treatment group to cope with these shocks without having to liquidate their inventories.
    JEL: G21 L26 O12
    Date: 2009–01
  2. By: Yu-Wei Hu; Fiona Stewart
    Abstract: Pension reform around the world in recent decades has focused mainly on the formal sector. Consequently, many of those working in the informal sector have been left out of structured pension arrangements, particularly in developing countries – a serious problem given this group are often low income earners, vulnerable to economic volatility and change. However, since the turn of the millennium, efforts in a range of countries have increasingly highlighted improving pension coverage for informal sector workers. This paper provides an overview of selected country experience in this regard, and provides some suggestions for governments in developing countries considering implementing their own pension reform to ensure that informal sector workers receive the retirement income they need.<P>La couverture des travailleurs du secteur informel par les systèmes de retraite : expériences au niveau international<BR>Les réformes des systèmes de retraite mises en oeuvre dans le monde au cours des dernières décennies étaient surtout centrées sur le secteur formel. Beaucoup de travailleurs du secteur informel sont donc restés à l'écart des régimes de retraite institutionnalisés, en particulier dans les pays en développement, ce qui constitue un problème grave étant donné que ce groupe est souvent composé de travailleurs à faibles revenus, vulnérables face à l'instabilité et au changement économiques. Cela étant, depuis le passage au nouveau millénaire, un certain nombre de pays se sont de plus en plus attachés à améliorer la couverture des travailleurs du secteur informel par les systèmes de retraite. Le présent document donne un aperçu de l'expérience de quelques pays à cet égard et formule, à l'intention des gouvernements de pays en développement qui envisagent la mise en place d'une réforme des retraites, des suggestions visant à ce que les travailleurs du secteur informel bénéficient d'un revenu suffisant au moment de la retraite.
    Keywords: social assistance, aide sociale, secteur informel, informal sector, compulsion, financial education, incentives, micro finance, non-contributory, pension coverage, couverture des systèmes de retraite, éducation financière, incitations, micro-finance, non contributif
    JEL: G15 G18 G23 G28 J26
    Date: 2009–01
  3. By: Gerichhausen, M.; Berkhout, E.D.; Hamers, H.J.M.; Manyong, V.M. (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Much research focuses on development of new agricultural technologies to reduce poverty levels of the large population of smallholder farms in Sub Saharan Africa. In this paper we argue that smallholders can also increase their production in a different way, namely by using their resources more efficiently through cooperation. This is obtained by grouping their (heterogeneous) resources and making joint decisions based on the aggregate resources. Afterwards, the gains of the joint production are divided, such that each farmer remains independent. This type of cooperation is modeled using linear programming and cooperative game theory. While linear programming establishes insight in optimal farm plans for farmers that cooperate, game theory is used to generate fair divisions of the extra gain that is established by cooperation. The model is applied to a village in Northern Nigeria. Households are clustered based on socio-economic parameters, and we explore cooperation. The optimal farm plan of the cooperative (i.e., farmers cooperate) contains more crops with high market and nutritional value, such as cowpea and sugarcane. We show that the gross margin of the cooperative is 12% higher than the sum of the individual gross margins. To divide these gains, we consider four established solution concepts from game theory that divide these extra gains: the Owen value, Shapley value, compromise value and nucleolus. An interesting result is that all farmers gain from cooperation and that the four solution concepts give similar results. Finally, we show how the provision of micro-credit can be used to stimulate cooperation in practice, benefiting the least-endowed farmers as well.
    Keywords: Linear Programming;Agriculture;Household models;Cooperative Game Theory;Nigeria
    JEL: C61 Q12 C71
    Date: 2008

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