“Economists and policymakers generally agree that a key component to alleviating global poverty is “financial inclusion.” The idea is that access to responsibly delivered financial services can improve the prospects and quality of life for the poor by helping them finance small businesses or prepare for financial shocks.

But experts disagree on an important question: Which financial tools and services will have the biggest impact?

In the first investigation, Higgins teamed up with Pierre Bachas, at the World Bank; Paul Gertler, at the University of California, Berkeley; and Enrique Seira, at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. They analyzed roughly five years of beneficiaries’ transaction-level bank-account information, from 2007–2011 (spanning before and after the introduction of the debit cards). They also combed through Prospera’s survey data.”

Read more about Paul Gertler’s research here.

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