NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Follow the Money: Methods for Identifying Consumption and Investment Responses to a Liquidity Shock

Dean Karlan, Adam Osman, Jonathan Zinman

NBER Working Paper No. 19696
Issued in December 2013
NBER Program(s):   DEV   LE   LS

Identifying the impacts of liquidity shocks on spending decisions is difficult methodologically but important for theory, practice, and policy. Using seven different methods on microenterprise loan applicants, we find striking results. Borrowers report uses of loan proceeds strategically, and more generally their reporting depends on elicitation method. Borrowers also interpret loan use questions differently than the key counterfactual: spending that would not have occurred sans loan. We identify the counterfactual using random assignment of loan approvals and short-run follow-up elicitation of major household and business cash outflows, and estimate that about 100% of loan-financed spending is on business inventory.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19696

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