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Borrowing Requirements, Credit Access, and Adverse Selection: Evidence from Kenya

William Jack, Michael Kremer, Joost de Laat, Tavneet Suri

NBER Working Paper No. 22686
Issued in September 2016, Revised in September 2019
NBER Program(s):Development Economics Program

Do the stringent formal sector borrowing requirements common in many developing countries restrict credit access, technology adoption, and welfare? When a Kenyan dairy's savings and credit cooperative randomly offered some farmers the opportunity to replace loans with high down payments and stringent guarantor requirements with loans collateralized by the asset itself — a large water tank — loan take-up increased from 2.4% to 41.9%. (In contrast, substituting joint liability requirements for deposit requirements did not affect loan take up.) There were no repossessions among farmers allowed to collateralize 75% of their loans, and there was only a 0.7% repossession rate among those offered 96% asset collateralization. A Karlan-Zinman test based on waiving borrowing requirements ex post finds evidence of adverse selection with lowered deposit requirements, but not of moral hazard. A simple model and rough calibration suggests that adverse selection may deter lenders from making welfare-improving loans with lower deposit requirements, even after introducing asset collateralization. We estimate that 2/3 of marginal loans led to increased water storage investment. Real effects of loosening borrowing requirements include increased household water access, reductions in child time spent on water-related tasks, and greater school enrollment for girls.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22686

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