July 30, 2014
A recently released World Bank Policy Research Working Paper presents results of an audit study of Mexican banks, investigating whether bank employees hide the lowest cost options from potential customers in order to turn a higher profit.
Financial products can vary widely in cost while providing more or less the same services. The dispersion in prices for products that offer essentially the same benefits –...
July 25, 2014
1. Microcredit: Easing liquidity constraints of smallholder farmers during the hungry season may help break the cycle of inadequate crop yields and low-wage off-labor farm work by helping to smooth consumption (with the added bonus of raising local wages!). Jobs Knowledge Platform
July 24, 2014
Recent work from CGAP and Continuum Innovation in Pakistan calls extreme illiteracy a “hidden hurdle” to financial inclusion. When people are unable to read or understand digital transactions they are less likely to trust digital products, constraining a viable avenue for access to financial products. In many cases illiterate people have to rely on an agent to complete their transaction and...
July 22, 2014
What does financial access look like? I like to think of it as a non-prescriptive goal in two parts. First, high-quality, affordable financial services are available. Second, people are aware of the services available to them. When these conditions are met, people are free to choose whether or not to use the services, and “access” is created.
A recent working paper challenged me...
July 18, 2014
1. Psychology and Poverty: An increasing number of scholars are studying how poverty affects the way people feel, think, and act. This may mean more widespread use of stress and happiness as metrics of success for development programs. Foreign Affairs
July 17, 2014
Just about everyone agrees that international remittances should be cheaper. If you run the numbers on international remittance flows, incomes of recipients and transaction costs, you can make a case that reducing remittance costs would be among the highest ROI interventions for raising incomes of poor households in the developing world (and given what we’re learning about the use and benefits of cash transfers, there’s good reason to believe the money would...
July 15, 2014
As part of our ongoing effort to bring the worlds of research and practice closer together, we are experimenting with making academic work more readable and accessible by publishing and disseminating it in new formats. We’ve just released a paper by Michael Clemens and Tim Ogden on Medium, which we like so far for its clean, visually appealing, picture-heavy layout, and the way it allows readers to leave...
July 8, 2014
In mid-June the Stanford Social Innovation Review blogged the results of a survey they conducted. The survey’s purpose: to understand the role of academic research in the work of practitioners in a broad range of social, environmental and economic issue areas. Many of the 1,800 respondents described academic research as difficult to access, expensive, too narrow, and not relevant. Seventy percent cited the “difficulty of translating research findings into concrete action...