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Bert D’Espallier and Jann Goedecke

Microfinance institutions (MFIs) which provide financial services in developing economies are hybrid enterprises in the sense that they balance social and financial objectives. It is therefore not surprising that empirical researchers have studied characteristics, conditions and managerial practices related to increased social or financial performance1 or sometimes both.2 While the financial dimension of an MFI is straightforward to quantify given the abundance of accounting-based and comparable metrics, the social performance is harder to grasp. Most empirical studies resort to the framework of Schreiner (2002) who distinguishes the breadth of outreach referring to the number of poor clients reached from the depth of outreach referring to the poverty-level of the clients. Consequently, most studies use the (growth in) number of clients as proxies for outreach-breadth and average loans and proportion of vulnerable clients (female clients and rural clients) as proxies for outreach-depth. There is, however, discussion whether these MFI-level univariate proxies are reliable indicators to capture one or more dimensions of social performance, which is an inherently complex and multidimensional concept. Interestingly, the concept of social performance is viewed very differently by researchers and practitioners. Whereas practitioners advocate an encompassing view involving several institutional layers, empirical researchers typically zoom in on a single institutional outcome. It remains to be seen whether both views are reconcilable and offer complementary insights or whether they are discordant.

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Maren Duvendack

Microfinance (MF) has been long heralded as a silver bullet to alleviate poverty and empower women. It enables the poor to access low cost credit, from which they were previously excluded, to undertake profitable entrepreneurialism. However, the impact of MF has become a highly contested arena, with critical (often systematic) reviews tending to controvert earlier claims that there existed good evidence of highly beneficent impacts (for example Bateman, 2010; Roy, 2010; Stewart et al., 2010; Duvendack et al., 2011; Roodman, 2012). Until the late 1990s most of the evidence was based on either practitioner contracted qualitative evaluations and commentaries (for example Counts, 1996; Todd, 1996), or a few quantitative studies that did not adequately control for selection bias (for example Gaile and Foster, 1996; Sebstad and Chen, 1996). A widely acknowledged notable exception was the complex analysis of a quasi-experimental design by Pitt and Khandker (1998) which became known as the most convincing evidence in favour of the headline claims for MF. Confidence in the likely positive impacts of MF was boosted by theoretical model based “typical findings” derived from empirical studies; these models purported to explain the causal mechanisms embedded in the innovative practices of microfinance institutions (MFIs) which enabled them to reach the poor and maintain financial viability (for example Varian, 1990; Besley and Coate, 1995). If it is the case that this combination of qualitative and quantitative studies backed up by convincing theoretical modelling was misleading, a better understanding of how best to measure MF impact is warranted to assess the quality and rigour of the empirical evidence to date. This chapter begins with a chronological overview of the key microfinance impact evidence with a focus on the methodological approaches adopted and how these evolved over time. Next, MF-specific evaluation challenges are discussed and linked to the recent methodological debates on experimental versus quasi-experimental studies. Finally, this chapter concludes with reflections on what we may have learnt from the discourse on MF impact.

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Markus Krajewski and Rhea Tamara Hoffmann

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Edited by Markus Krajewski and Rhea T. Hoffmann

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Edited by Markus Krajewski and Rhea T. Hoffmann

Increasing international investment, the proliferation of international investment agreements, domestic legislation, and investor-State contracts have contributed to the development of a new field of international law that defines obligations between host states and foreign investors with investor-State dispute settlement. This involves not only vast sums, but also a panoply of rights, duties, and shifting objectives at the juncture of national and international law and policy. This engaging Research Handbook provides an authoritative account of these diverse investment law issues.
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A History of the Global Economy

The Inevitable Accident

Colin White

Providing an exceptional overview and analysis of the global economy, from the origins of Homo sapiens to the present day, Colin White explores our past to help understand our economic future. He veers away from traditional Eurocentric approaches, providing a truly global scope for readers. The main themes include the creative innovativeness of humans and how this generates economic progression, the common economic pathway trodden by all societies, and the complementary relationship between government and the market.
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Colin White

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Nanak Kakwani and Hyun Hwa Son

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Nanak Kakwani and Hyun Hwa Son

This research review offers an insight to some of the most important questions economists and policymakers have been grappling over. A substantial amount of research has been carried out using cross-country regression models, resulting in a better and improved understanding of the linkage between economic growth and poverty reduction. The literature on cross-country regressions, however, has led to conflicting conclusions. Reconciling diverging messages makes it difficult to accurately inform policy-making. Based on a selection of influential papers, this volume provides a critical review of the literature. Scholars who envision a world free of extreme poverty will find this analysis particularly valuable.
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Nanak Kakwani and Hyun Hwa Son