NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Dangers of a Double-Bottom Line: A Poverty Targeting Experiment Misses Both Targets

Dean Karlan, Adam Osman, Jonathan Zinman

NBER Working Paper No. 24379
Issued in March 2018
NBER Program(s):Development Economics, Public Economics

Two for-profit Philippine social enterprises, aiming to demonstrate corporate social responsibility by increasing microlending to the poor, incorporated a widely-used poverty measurement tool into their loan applications and tested the tool using randomized training content. Treated loan officers were instructed why and how to use the tool for targeting; control group training merely labelled the tool “additional household information”. The targeting training backfired, leading to no additional poor applicants and lower-performing loans. Descriptive evidence suggests the targeting training exacerbated loan officer misperceptions and multitasking problems. Our results help explain why corporate social responsibility efforts are often siloed from core operations.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24379

 
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