May 16, 2014
1. Bank Transparency: Wal-Mart is known as a low-cost retailer, but customers of the independent banks inside its outlets are among America's highest payers of bank fees. The 5 banks with the most Wal-Mart branches ranked among the top 10 in fee income as a percentage of deposits in 2013. The Wall Street...
May 15, 2014
A theme on the social science blogs these days is “everything we know is wrong.”
The frequent citation of drug trials as the basis for sound social science experiments disguises an unsettling fact about medical research in general: it’s often statistically and causally naïve. Political scientist/economist Chris Blattman recently pointed to a piece documenting that a widely influential fish oil/heart disease study that had been used to sell millions of dollars of fish oil...
May 13, 2014
Thomas Piketty’s recent book on inequality, the enormously popular best-seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century, explores the historical evolution of income and wealth inequality and its possible drivers. The book demonstrates that developing as well as developed economies have seen a big upswing in income inequality in recent years, as measured by the share of total income accounted for by the top percentile:
May 9, 2014
1. Mobile Money: New data show the potential of Bitcoin and mobile money for disruption in payments and transfers systems in the developing world (particularly sub-Saharan Africa) has a long way to go before becoming a reality....
One of the most promising innovations in the digital payments space has been on the delivery of government benefits through electronic payments systems in developing countries. Now, an impact evaluation of digitization of government payments in India by Karthik Muralidharan (UCSD), Paul Niehaus (UCSD) and Sandip Sukhtankar (Dartmouth) finds encouraging results.
In one of the largest randomized impact evaluations to date – covering 19 million people – Muralidharan and colleagues study the recent rollout of the...
May 2, 2014
1. Poverty in the US: Despite improved living standards, the poor in the US have fallen further behind the middle class and the affluent in both income and consumption. In addition, the cost of many services crucial to escaping poverty — including education, health care and child care — has soared. ...
May 2, 2014
Last week we blogged about the puzzle of low adoption of mobile banking accounts in Bangladesh. When we ask, people say they’re interested in mobile banking accounts. So why don’t they adopt the new technology? And why are rates of adoption so high in some places, like Kenya, and so low in Bangladesh?
This week we zoom in on one particular aspect of the adoption puzzle, and discuss the possibility that there are social phenomena (“peer effects...
May 1, 2014
Financial Access Initiative
As the semester comes to a close, some of you are gearing up to travel for internships and post-grad positions with organizations focused on microfinance, financial inclusion, or household money management. We at FAI are interested in hearing from you about your first-hand interactions with people using financial services for a planned series of blog posts based on your summer experience.
FAI is a research center housed at NYU Wagner focused on exploring how financial services can improve the lives of poor households. We recognize that the world’s poor live complex...
April 23, 2014
A collaboration between the Gates Foundation and the Gallup World Poll has gathered new data on remittances for a broad set of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia, home to many growing markets for mobile banking and money transfers.
Collected jointly with the Global Findex data, the new data include answers to questions such as:“...