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Second Quarter 2020, 
Vol. 102, No. 2
Posted 2020-05-01

Taking Stock of the Evidence on Microfinancial Interventions

by Francisco J. Buera, Joseph P. Kaboski, and Yongseok Shin

We review the empirical evidence on microfinance and asset grants to the ultra poor or microentrepreneurs and use quantitative economic theory to account for this evidence. Properly executed, these interventions can help segments of the population increase their income and consumption, but neither literature gives much reason to believe that such interventions can lead to wide-scale, transformative impacts akin to escaping aggregate poverty traps.