Creditworthiness as a Signal of Trustworthiness: Field Experiment in Microfinance and Consequences on Causality in Impact Studies
62 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2014
Date Written: December 2009
Creditworthiness and trustworthiness are almost synonyms because, under asymmetric information, the act of conferring a loan has the indirect effect of signaling the trustworthiness of the borrower. We test the creditworthiness/trustworthiness nexus in an investment game experiment on a sample of participants/non-participants in a microfinance program in Argentina and find that trustors give significantly more to (and believe they will receive more from) microfinance borrowers. The first- and second-order beliefs of trustees are also consistent with this picture. Our findings then show that MF participants appear more trustworthy and this may help microfinance to work. A related consequence is that, if (and only if) borrower's trustworthiness is not public information, the mere loan provision acts as a reputation enhancing signal increasing the borrower's attractiveness as a business partner. In such case we have a channel through which a private financial intermediary contributes to the provision of a public good like information, thereby reducing the adverse consequences of market failures on the creation of economic value.
Keywords: Field experiment, Microfinance, Investment game, Trust, Trustworthiness
JEL Classification: O16, C93, D03
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation