Orazio Attanasio, Britta Augsburg, Ralph De Haas, Emla Fitzsimons, Heike Harmgart, Costas Meghir, 17 June 2015

There have been intense debates on whether microfinance can lift people out of poverty. Summarising research across seven countries, this column argues that microcredit is a useful financial tool but not a powerful anti-poverty strategy. There are also no significant benefits in terms of education or female empowerment. Yet, microcredit does allow low-income households to better cope with risk and to enjoy greater flexibility in how they earn and spend money. 

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