Credit Programs for the Poor and Reproductive Behavior in Low-Income Countries

Research Report

Credit Programs for the Poor and Reproductive Behavior in Low-Income Countries

Are the Reported Causal Relationships the Result of Heterogeneity Bias?

Abstract

Group-based lending programs for the poor have drawn much attention recently. As many of these programs target women, an important research question is whether program participation significantly changes reproductive behavior and whether the gender of the participant matters. Using survey data from 87 Bangladeshi villages, this paper estimates the impact of female and male participation in group-based credit programs on reproductive behavior while paying close attention to issues of self-selection and endogeneity. We find no evidence that female participation in group-based credit programs increases contraceptive use or reduces fertility. Male participation reduces fertility and may slightly increase contraceptive use.

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