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Bauer, Michal
Chytilová, Julie
Morduch, Jonathan
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
IES Working Paper 28/2008
This paper draws a link between self-control problems and the contractual mechanisms of microcredit. We use a series of lab experiments in the field which were designed to elicit measures of time discounting on a sample of 573 individuals in rural Karnataka, India. Evidence from the experiments were integrated with individual survey data on the economic and financial lives of villagers. One third of participants made choices consistent with hyperbolic preferences (more impatient now than in the future), and would be made better off if they could discipline their time inconsistent preferences. While hyperbolic preferences have been often associated with saving behavior, we describe links to borrowing as well. We find that hyperbolic women save a lower share of their savings at home and save less in total levels. Women with hyperbolic preferences are also more likely to borrow - and to do so through microcredit institutions specifically. The finding highlights the role of the fixed and frequent installment schedule ubiquitous in microcredit contracts. While microcredit contracts are celebrated for mitigating informational asymmetries, the evidence suggests that they also offer helpful structure for people with self-discipline problems who seek to accumulate capital but who lack suitable contractual saving devices.
Document Type: 
Working Paper
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