Measuring the Equilibrium Impacts of Credit: Evidence from the Indian Microfinance Crisis
82 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2018 Last revised: 24 Dec 2021
Date Written: February 2018
In October 2010, the state government of Andhra Pradesh, India issued an emergency ordinance, bringing microfinance activities in the state to a complete halt and causing a nation-wide shock to the liquidity of lenders, especially those with loans in the affected state. We use this massive dislocation in the microfinance market to identify the causal impacts of a reduction in credit supply on consumption, earnings, and employment in general equilibrium in rural labor markets. Using a proprietary district-level data set from 25 separate, for-profit microlenders matched with household data from the National Sample Survey, we find that district-level reductions in credit supply are associated with significant decreases in casual daily wages, household wage earnings and consumption. We find a substantial consumption multiplier from credit that is likely driven by two channels – aggregate demand and business investment. We calibrate a simple two-period, two-sector model of the rural economy that incorporates both channels and show that the magnitude of our wage results is consistent with the model’s predictions.
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