Microfinance clients were randomly assigned to repayment groups that met either weekly or monthly during their first loan cycle, and then graduated to identical meeting frequency for their second loan. Long-run survey data and a follow-up public goods experiment reveal that clients initially assigned to weekly groups interact more often and exhibit a higher willingness to pool risk with group members from their first loan cycle nearly two years after the experiment. They were also three times less likely to default on their second loan. Evidence from an additional treatment arm shows that, holding meeting frequency fixed, the pattern is insensitive to repayment frequency during the first loan cycle. Taken together, these findings constitute the first experimental evidence on the economic returns to social interaction, and provide an alternative explanation for the success of the group lending model in reducing default risk.
Ganguli, Ina, Ricardo Hausmann, and Martina Viarengo. “
The education gap between men and women has closed, or has even reversed in many countries. Have countries also made progress in closing other gaps facing women? Using micro-level Census data for close to 40 countries, we examine several dimensions of gender disparity: we compare men and women's labor force participation (the labor force participation gap), married and single women's labor force participation (the marriage gap), and mothers' and non-mother's labor force participation (the motherhood gap). We show that there is significant heterogeneity among countries in terms of the size and the speed at which the gaps are changing.