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Scale economies and input price elasticities in microfinance institutions

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We evaluate the efficiency of microfinance institutions (MFIs) using a structural approach which also captures these institutions’ outreach and sustainability objectives. We estimate economies of scale and input price elasticities for lending-only and deposit-mobilizing MFIs using a large sample of high-quality panel data. The results confirm conjectures that improvements in efficiency can come from the growth or consolidations of MFIs, as we find substantial increasing returns to scale for all but profitability-focused deposit-mobilizing MFIs. Our results support the existence of a trade-off between outreach and sustainability. All inputs are inelastic substitutes, but we find differences in own-price elasticities in lending-only and deposit-mobilizing MFIs.
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This paper has been published as:
Hartarska, V., Shen, X. and Mersland, R. (2013)
Scale Economies and Input Price Elasticities in Microfinance
Institutions
Journal of Banking and Finance
Vol. 37 (1), pp. 118-131
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Scale economies and input price elasticities in microfinance institutions
Valentina Hartarskaa, Xuan Shenb, Roy Merslandc,*
a Associate Professor, Auburn University, 210 Comer Hall, Auburn Al 36849
b Ph.D. Candidate, Auburn University, 202 Comer Hall, Auburn Al 36849
c Associate Professor, University of Agder,4604 Kristiansand, Norway
Abstract
We evaluate the efficiency of microfinance institutions (MFIs) using a structural
approach which also captures these institutions’ outreach and sustainability objectives. We
estimate economies of scale and input price elasticities for lending-only and deposit-mobilizing
MFIs using a large sample of high-quality panel data. The results confirm conjectures that
improvements in efficiency can come from the growth or consolidations of MFIs, as we find
substantial increasing returns to scale for all but profitability-focused deposit-mobilizing MFIs.
Our results support the existence of a trade-off between outreach and sustainability. All inputs
are inelastic substitutes, but we find differences in own-price elasticities in lending-only and
deposit mobilizing MFIs.
JEL classification: G21; F30
Keywords: Microfinance; Efficiency; Input price elasticity; Scale economies; Microfinance
institutions
* Corresponding author. Tel.: +4792434333; fax: +4738141001.
E-mail addresses:hartarska@auburn.edu (Valentina Hartarska), xzs0005@auburn.edu (Xuan
Shen), roy.mersland@uia.no (Roy Mersland)
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1. Introduction
Microfinance is the supply of financial services to micro-enterprises and poor families.
Considerable public recognition of microfinance as a development tool has resulted from the
United Nations Year of Microcredit in 2005 and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to
Mohammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in 2006. More recently, microfinance has attracted
private investors because it offers a new class of assets and can improve portfolio diversification.
Outreach by microfinance institutions (MFIs) has grown tremendously during the past decade,
and microfinance now reaches more than 150 million borrowers.
1
Despite such achievements, microfinance reaches only a fraction of the world's poor,
with perhaps $200 billion more needed to meet worldwide demand (Swanson, 2008). Most MFIs
are small, reach only a few thousand clients, remain costly to operate and risk drifting toward
better-off clients (Daley-Harris, 2009; Mersland and Strøm, 2010). Therefore, an efficiency
analysis focused on estimating the economies of scale in the industry and how MFIs mix inputs
to offer financial services to the world’s poor is timely and important.
Numerous studies on scale economies of commercial banks use the structural approach to
efficiency, in which cost or profit functions are estimated (Hughes and Mester, 2008a).
Surprisingly, in microfinance, most studies use a non-structural approach and analyze efficiency
and productivity using ratios developed by the MicroBanking Bulletin (MBB) in the 1990s (e.g.,
Cull et al., 2007).
2
Scale efficiency has not been the focus of the few applications of a structural approach,
which have studied MFIs governance, evolution in time, or mission drift (Caudill et al., 2009;
Hartarska and Mersland, 2012; Hermes et al., 2011). Such studies include stochastic frontier
(SFA) analysis, which measures an individual MFI’s efficiency as the distance to an optimal
1
Source: MicrocreditSummit.org
2
(see Berger and Mester, 1997, 2003; Berger, 2007 for surveys of the literature)
3
frontier defined by the best performers in the sample, or data envelopment analysis (DEA),
which does not make behavioral assumptions (e.g., cost minimization) about the objectives of
MFIs (Gutierrez-Nieto et al., 2007; Balkenhol, 2008; Nawaz, 2009). Another line of recent
efficiency work estimates scope economies from the joint provision of microsavings and
microloans (Hartarska et al., 2010, 2011) by MFIs worldwide.
However, there are no published studies focused on scale efficiency in MFIs and on
analyzing the elasticities of substitution among inputs to illuminate how MFIs combine inputs to
provide financial services to clientele not served by typical banks. We present the first such
estimates and discuss elasticities of substitution among inputs. We use the classical seemingly
unrelated regressions (SUR) on a system of equations consisting of cost function and cost share
equations and high-quality panel data from MFIs operating in 69 countries.
3
We apply a
modified production approach employed in efficiency analyses of banks and financial
institutions to better capture the objectives of MFIs, following recent cost function specifications
in microfinance (Caudill et al., 2009, Hartarska and Mersland, 2012; Hartarska et al., 2011).
Our approach captures MFIs sustainability goal through the assumption of cost
minimization as well as their outreach goal of serving as many poor clients as possible. The latter
is achieved by measuring outputs within the cost function by the number of active clients served
(borrowers only or borrowers and savers).
4
We compare these results with results where outputs
are loan portfolios (and deposits) measured in dollars to determine how serving poorer borrowers
with smaller loans and collecting smaller savings may affect efficiency estimates. We also split
the sample by MFI type lending-only and savings-collecting (which also lend) to determine
3
Recent work has demonstrated that the joint estimation of the equivalent production function and first-order
conditions with normalization (which is our approach) is superior to single equation modeling, which is prevalent in
banking studies (León-Ledesma et al., 2010).
4
A similar approach appropriate for other financial industries is used by Van Cayseele and Wuyts (2007).
4
whether efficiency estimates differ by business model. Efficiency differences along this
dimension provide insights into the industry’s push toward realizing scope economies by
transforming MFIs into deposit-collecting institutions.
Our empirical evidence confirms previous conjectures that microfinance growth potential
can be achieved by realizing economies of scale. The results show that MFIs can generate sizable
cost savings though growth or consolidation. We find that all inputs are inelastic substitutes,
indicating that very large changes in the price of one input are needed to induce substitution
away from this input. We find differences in own-price elasticities by business model with
inelastic labor and elastic physical and financial capitals in lending-only MFIs. In savings-
collecting MFIs, physical capital is unit elastic, whereas labor and financial capital are elastic.
The rest of this paper is organized as follows: Section 2 briefly describes the MFI
industry-specific characteristics. Section 3 presents the empirical approach. Section 4 discusses
the data, Section 5 discusses the empirical results, and Section 6 concludes.
2. Brief overview of microfinance institutions
Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) provide banking services to the poor. The objective of an MFI
is to improve outreach (i.e. serving as many poor customers as possible) while remaining
financially sustainable (i.e. covering its costs). Most MFIs only lend, but more recently, many
have obtained banking licenses and are able to mobilize deposits. The most recent data show that
approximately one-quarter of MFIs collect savings (i.e. are deposit-mobilizing MFIs), with three
quarters remaining lending-only (mixmarket.org).
MFIs can be organized as banks, non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), non-
governmental organizations (NGOs), or cooperatives (credit unions or co-ops), depending on a
country’s laws and an MFIs background. These MFIs compose an industry because all offer
5
small loans (and savings products in the case of deposit-collecting institutions) to marginal
clients who are normally not served by banks or other financial institutions.
Because lending to poor people is costly, MFIs use a variety of innovative lending
methodologies individual lending without collateral or with non-traditional collateral (with
low market value but high personal value, e.g., TV sets, bikes, etc.), group lending
methodologies such as solidarity groups and village banking, where the group of borrowers
assume responsibility for screening, monitoring and contract enforcement and thus substantially
lower the costs of service delivery. Typical in microlending is the requirement of frequent
repayment as a means of encouraging and enforcing repayment discipline. Diligent borrowers
gain access to larger amounts of loans in the future, which serves as an additional repayment
enforcement mechanism.
Historically, MFIs were created with donor funds or with funds by institutional investors
(e.g., the World Bank) or private charities (e.g., Opportunity International), which continue to
remain engaged in the MFIs by providing loans, sometimes at below-market rates, and grants
under special circumstances. Increasingly, however, private investors attracted to MFIs returns
on investment have become involved as investors or as creditors, and generally the international
influence in the microfinance industry is high (Mersland et al., 2011). Several microfinance
studies have reported that MFI performance is not affected by the type of organization (lending-
only vs. deposit-collecting) and financial banking regulations; therefore, efficiency studies
analyze all MFIs as an industry (Hartarska and Nadolnyak, 2007; Mersland and Strøm, 2009).
3. Estimation approach
A structural approach to efficiency in financial institutions involves estimating a profit or cost
function to determine the optimal scale and input price elasticities. For the microfinance
6
industry, cost functions are estimated for several reasons. First, the cost function assumes
exogenous output and uses input prices, whereas the profit function uses input and output prices,
which is problematic for a study on MFIs because detailed price data (interest rates charged) on
loans are not collected. Furthermore, from a theoretical perspective, the cost function is more
appropriate when firms are price takers in the input markets (labor and capital) and have some
market power in the output market (Varian, 1984). MFIs have some market power in serving the
poor, as other lenders avoid them. In the input market, MFIs are price takers because they pay
competitive salaries for relatively skilled labor, compete with peers worldwide for access to
financial capital (loans and donations), and participate in a competitive market for physical
capital. Finally, some MFIs operate as for-profit entities, but the majority remain not-for-profit;
although not all MFIs maximize profits, all strive to minimize cost.
Therefore, we estimate a typical translog cost function
  



  (1)
where C is total cost; qj are output(s); pk are input prices; zm are control variables; α, β, δ, and γ
are parameters to be estimated; and lnv is the standard error term. Homogeneity in input prices
requires
βk = 1,
βlk =
βkl = 0 over l and k,

jk = 0 for any qj and
γkm=0 for any zm. These
restrictions are imposed in the estimation by normalizing (dividing) all input prices and total cost
by the price of physical capital. The data are mean-scaled (divided by their means) to facilitate
calculation of scale economies.
Estimating financial institutions’ cost functions must also consider credit risk, which is
typically measured by non-performing loan ratios. This consideration is needed because lower
asset quality (or higher nonperforming loan ratio) requires more resources to manage the higher
7
risk, and if asset quality is not accounted for, the estimated scale economies will be reduced.
Therefore, the results may show that there are economies of scale, whereas, in fact, when risk is
incorporated, financial institutions operate at minimum costs with constant returns to scale
(Hughes and Mester, 1998b).
5
Therefore, we also control for the level of risk using a variable
measuring the ratio of loans delinquent by more than 30 days to the total portfolio, which is a
standard ratio used by MFIs to measure the risk level of their loan portfolio.
Because technology changes over time, banking scale economies studies add a time trend
as a proxy for technical progress. Technical progress is expected to reduce total cost, so the
expectation is that costs will decrease with time, which is captured by the derivative of cost with
respect to time.
6
A technical progress term is both added directly and interacted with risk, input
price and output variables.
7
To improve the efficiency of the estimation, we estimate the cost function jointly with
cost share equations derived from Shepherd’s Lemma. These cost share equations are derived as
sk=∂lnC/∂lnpk, or
 
 (2)
with cross-equation parameter constraints imposed. The translog cost function, along with the
share equations, is estimated using the seemingly unrelated regressions (SUR) method. Recent
work examining the production function (equivalent to our cost function) has demonstrated that
the joint estimation of this function with first-order conditions is preferable to single equation
5
An additional factor discussed by these authors is the liquidity risk part related to banks deposit taking function,
but because most MFIs do not collect deposits, we do not add such a control variable.
6
Altunbas et al. (2000) also argue that when the overall economic conditions are not included in the model, the time
trend will capture the time dimension and other dynamics.
7
The results from banking studies suggest that the technical progress term is much stronger for smaller banks, and
we expect that because MFIs are relatively small, this term will be significant (Lang and Welzel, 1996).
8
estimation, especially when combined with normalization, which we do using the price of
(physical) capital (León-Ledesma et al., 2010).
Two main approaches exist for specifying the main elements of the cost function (input
prices, outputs and costs), namely the intermediation and production approaches. Whereas the
intermediation approach assumes that financial firms intermediate (i.e., use deposits to produce
loans, measured in dollars), the production approach considers deposits to be outputs and
measures the outputs using the number of client accounts. The implication is that interest
expense on deposits in the intermediation approach is part of the cost of capital, whereas the
production approach uses only operating expenses as input prices. Microfinance studies estimate
a cost function with a modified approach similar to that employed in some banking studies (e.g.,
Berger and Humphrey, 1991; Mitchell and
On
vural, 1996).
In this paper, we follow Caudill et al. (2009) and Hermes et al. (2011) and use their
modified approach. In particular, interest paid on deposits is accounted for within the cost of
financial capital (the intermediation approach). Output is measured in two ways. First, to better
reflect the objective of the MFIs to serve marginal clientele rather than intermediate funds,
output is measured as the number of borrowers (and savers), as in Hartarska et al. (2011) and
Caudill el al. (2009). Second, for comparison purposes, it is measured as the value of loans (and
deposits), as in the common intermediation approach.
The components of input prices are the three classical inputs in microfinance and banking
studies the average salary per worker to measure the price of labor, the ratio between non-labor
operating expenses and net fixed capital to measure the price of physical capital, and the cost of
capital as specified in the modified approach (Caudill et al., 2009; Mitchell and
On
vural,
1996).
9
Within the microfinance industry, lending remains the dominant objective, with the
majority of MFIs only lending and only some mobilizing savings. Therefore, between the two
types of output specifications, we estimate specifications with one output (lending only) and with
two outputs (loans and savings). Next, we split the sample into lending-only MFIs and deposit
mobilizing MFIs and estimate one- and two-output specifications, each measured in dollar terms
and by the number of active clients (borrowers and savers).
In addition to standard cost function variables (input prices and output quantities);
controls for risk, which are essential in financial institutions; the country of operation for cross-
sectional data; and time trends, because we have panel data, we also control for MFI-specific
characteristics and country-specific characteristics. These variables capture the possible impact
of the legal environment and microfinance competition through two specially constructed
indexes (based on information provided by the rating agencies), the dominant lending method
(individual lending, village banks and solidarity groups), and a dummy variable for being subject
to regulation by a banking authority. Therefore, our specifications allow cross-country MFI data
to estimate cost efficiency and elasticities, similar to recent banking cross-country studies (Fries
and Taci, 2005; Bos and Kool, 2006).
Economies of scale exist if an increase in output, holding all input prices constant, causes
a less-than-proportional increase in total cost. Therefore, economies of scale are calculated by
taking the derivative of lnC with respect to output(s). Because variables are mean scaled, the
partial scale is given by the estimates for
j in the one-output model and by the sum of
i and
j
for the two-output model. Economies of scale (increasing returns to scale) exist if the partial in
(1) is less than one, diseconomies of scale (decreasing returns to scale) exist if it is smaller than
one, and constant returns to scale exist when this coefficient is equal to one.
10
We expect to find increasing returns to scale if MFIs would benefit from either expanding
output (number of clients or volume of services) or consolidating to take advantage of cost-
saving opportunities. Because the sample we use contains smaller MFIs compared with those in
other datasets (e.g., the Mix Market Information Exchange), economies of scale are likely to
exist and would indicate that MFIs would benefit from moving rightward along their cost curve.
In addition to estimating scale economies, we also calculate the Allen own- and cross-
price elasticities of substitution for the production inputs used in the model (labor, physical
capital, and financial capital) to show how MFIs use inputs to achieve their objectives. Parameter
estimates from the translog cost function allow calculations of elasticities of substitution:
Parameter estimates from the translog cost function allow calculations of Allen-Uzawa
elasticities of substitution:
θ
lk = 1 +  /s1sk for l
k;
θ
ll = ( + sl 2 - sl) / sl 2 (3)
and own-price elasticities of demand are as follows:
η
ll=sl
θ
ll (4)
where  is the respective cross-price coefficient (from eq. (1)), is the respective own-price
coefficient (from eq. (1)), sl and sk are the respective input shares, [(Pl * Ql)/TC]. The own-price
elasticity should be negative in accordance with the law of demand. Inelastic demand may
indicate more vulnerability to monopsonistic power.
To save space, we only present estimates of the cost function, as estimates of the cost
share equations are not informative by themselves. However, these estimates are used to
calculate elasticities, which we present in a separate table (Table 7).
11
4. Data
This dataset was assembled from rating reports that were completed by five microfinance rating
agencies and available for different time periods and on different websites.
8
The dataset contains
MFIs from 69 countries with at least three annual observations per MFI for the period 1998 to
2010. In total, the dataset consists of 989 annual MFI observations. To minimize the impact of
outliers, we exclude the top and bottom 1%. A list of countries and the number of observations
per country in the sample are available in the appendix.
We define the input price of labor as the average annual salary per employee, the cost of
capital is the cost of purchased funds (including the cost of deposits), and the input price of
physical capital is the ratio of non-labor operating expenses to the value of net fixed assets,
which is consistent with previous studies applying the modified production/intermediation
approach (e.g., Berger and Humphrey, 1991; Mitchell and Onvural, 1996).). Total costs (TC) are
the sum of input prices and input quantities.
Table 1 presents the summary statistics of the variables used in the analysis, and more
detailed characteristics of the dataset are presented in the appendix.
9
The first column on Table 1
contains the average values for the sample, whereas the second and the third contain the average
values for lending-only and deposit-mobilizing (savings-collecting and lending) MFIs.
The data show that the average loan portfolio is $5.02 million, the value of savings (if
savings are collected) is $3.35 million, the average number of borrowers is 11,400, and the
average number of depositors when savings are collected is 15,580. The cost of financial capital,
8
The dataset was collected from various publicly available online sources. They include reports from a previously
available website called www.ratingfund.org, but this project was discontinued. Currently, MFIs reports are
available via www.ratingfund2.org and www.ratinginitiative.org.
9
Our data contain relatively few of the very large MFIs found in alternative datasets (e.g., mixmaret.org) but a
comparison based on the medians indicate that our data are more representative of the industry as it avoids the larger
MFIs bias existing in the alternative dataset. Moreover, alternative datasets do not permit to calculate the cost of
capital and labor and cannot be used to analyze efficiency and input price elasticity.
12
which includes the cost of mobilizing deposits as well as loans, is 6%; the cost of labor,
measured as the annual cost per employee, is $7,398; and the cost of capital, measured by the
ratio of non-labor expenses to net fixed assets, is 2.79.
The impact of market competition and regulatory environment is captured by two indexes
constructed from the information provided in the rating reports. These indexes range in value
from 1 to 7, with larger values indicating more competition from other MFIs and banks and a
more supportive regulatory environment (Mersland and Strøm, 2009).
The summary statistics show that the majority MFIs operate as NGOs (54%), followed by
NBFIs (29%) and co-ops (13%). Only 2% of MFI are registered as banks, and among the
deposit-taking institutions, microfinance banks represent 6%. The majority of MFI use the
individual lending methodology (62%), whereas 22% use solidarity groups, and 16% use the
village banking lending methodology.
5. Discussion of the results
5.1. Baseline model
Table 2 contains the estimates of four specifications for the complete dataset of 989 annual
observations from all MFIs worldwide. The first column contains the results from a model with a
single output measured by the number of active borrowers, and the second column contains the
results from a model with a single output measured by the dollar value of loans. The third and
fourth columns contain the results from models with two outputs, loans and deposits, measured
by the number of active clients in Model 3 and by the dollar value of loans and savings volume
in Model 4.
10
10
Because lending-only MFIs have zero savings as output, to be able to take the log, we replace zero with 1 for the
number of deposits and with 10 for value of deposits, as is typical in efficiency studies in banking focused on scope
economies.
13
The overall model fit for the translog functional form is good and explains most of the
variation in the data, with R2 between 0.86 and 0.9. In all model specifications, almost all core
variables - input prices, outputs and their derivatives - have the expected signs and are
statistically significant at the 5% level or better (except for one interaction term in the first
specification, which is not statistically significant). In addition, the majority of risk and time
interactions are statistically significant in all specifications.
Estimated scale economies are presented at the bottom of each column. A comparison of
these values produced by the four specifications is informative because measuring outputs by the
number of clients better captures the outreach mission, whereas measuring outputs in dollars is
more likely to identify efficiency in providing a larger volume of financial services; this
efficiency is achieved by extending larger loans and collecting larger deposits. Because larger
loans are cheaper to administer, differences in efficiency numbers between the two specifications
suggest tradeoffs between sustainability and outreach.
The results in Table 2 shows that MFIs in the sample operate with increasing returns to
scale because the coefficient on the output is less than one for all specifications. This finding
indicates that larger MFIs are more efficient and that improvements in efficiency will come from
MFI consolidation or expansion.
There are small differences in coefficient estimates between output measures, and this
difference is more pronounced between the one-output models (0.13) compared to the
specification with two outputs (0.04). The results from regressions with output measured in
dollars produce slightly higher scale economies (0.89 for the one-output model and 0.85 for the
two-output model), compared to the specifications where output is measured by the number of
active clients (0.76 for the model with one output and 0.81 for the two-output model).
14
These differences in results are consistent with banking studies in which the production
approachwhich measures outputs by the number of accounts or transactionsproduces higher
economies of scale (smaller coefficients) than the intermediation approach (see Berger and
Mester, 1997). For the case of MFIs, we interpret the results to indicate that serving more clients
is more expensive than serving larger clients, a finding that is consistent with the microfinance
literature (Hermes et al., 2011; Mersland and Strøm, 2010). The smaller coefficient in models
measuring output(s) by the number of clients indicates that MFIs must move further down the
cost curve and reach proportionally more clients rather than moving down the cost curve to
extend more loans.
Similar to findings in the banking literature, we find that in MFIs, higher risk is
associated with higher costs but only in the specifications where output is measured by the
number of borrowers (Model 1) and by the number of borrowers and clients (Model 3). In
particular, a one percent increase in delinquencies of 30 days or more (which is a very high
increase in the risk profile of an MFI) is associated with a 17%(15%) increase in costs. However,
an increase in this variable is not associated with higher costs in models with output(s) measured
by the dollar value of loans and deposits. These results also indicate that it is costlier to reach
more borrowers than to distribute larger loans.
The panel nature of the data allows us to study the role of technical progress in
microfinance and answer questions such as whether costs decrease with time. Unfortunately, in
this specification, we do not find that MFIs’ costs decrease over time because the coefficient on
time is not statistically significant in this specification.
Next, to study differences by business model, we divide the data into two subsamples
lending-only MFIs and savings-mobilizing MFIs (which lend and collect savings). Table 3
15
contains the results. The first two columns present results from estimated cost functions with
observations from lending-only MFIs. In the first model, output is set at the number of active
borrowers to capture the outreach mission of the MFI, and in the second model, the output is the
loan portfolio in dollars. The scale economies results are almost identical to those in the models
estimated for the entire sample: 0.78 in the first model and 0.89 for the second.
In Table 3, the last two regressions are estimated with data from only savings-mobilizing
MFIs. As for the lending-only MFI, here too outputs are measured by the number of active
borrowers and active savers (depositors) to reflect the outreach mission on these MFIs
(production approach) in Model 3, whereas in Model 4, outputs are the dollar value of the loan
portfolio and deposits. Compared to the scale economies from the pooled sample, the
coefficients on outputs are higher: 0.87 for the outreach-measuring approach (compared to 0.81)
and 0.94 for the dollar value output specification (compared to 0.85). The smaller magnitude of
the increasing returns to scale suggests that a smaller movement down the cost function is
needed to reach the optimal scale for deposit-mobilizing MFIs than what we could infer from the
overall sample used in the pooled regressions. Therefore, the results indicate that savings-
mobilizing MFIs are closer to the optimal scale than lending-only MFIs, which is unsurprising
because to obtain permission to mobilize deposits, MFIs must be much larger to meet entry
capital requirements.
In the regressions by business model, we also find that a one percent increase in the
riskiness of the portfolio is associated with an approximately 11% increase in costs in models
with outputs measured in numbers. This number is smaller compared to the models for all MFIs,
which showed increases of 15% and 17%. We find evidence for learning-by-doing in lending-
only institutions (Models 1 & 2 in Table 3), with each additional year leading to an additional
16
3% decrease in cost in Model 1 in the outreach-measuring model (measuring output with the
number of borrowers) and a 2% decrease in cost in Model 2, which measures output in dollars.
However, there is still no evidence for learning-by-doing for savings-collecting MFIs, perhaps
because most of these MFIs have recently transformed and are still in the initial stages of
learning.
5.2. Estimates with controls for MFIs’ heterogeneity
The results with MFI-specific and environmental controls included are presented in Table 4 for
all MFIs and in Table 5 for MFIs by business model.
The results for the estimated scale economies with all MFIs included and with one output
(Table 4, Models 1 & 2) are almost identical to the benchmark, falling within 0.01 or 0.02 points.
In the regressions with two outputs (savings and loans), we find increasing returns to scale, with
these variables actually higher than those in the specification without the additional controls.
However, we note that these results may be because these control variables are not available for
all MFIs, leading to a loss of approximately 100 observations. Similar to the results from the
specifications in Table 3 and to results in previous banking studies, we find that the scale
economies coefficients are smaller for all specifications in Table 4 when the outputs are
measured by the number of clients rather than the dollar volume.
In the regressions in Table 4, the impact of risk is now smaller in magnitude and is
relevant only for the specification with one output (Models 1 & 2); it is not statistically
significant in models with two-output specifications. The magnitude of this impact is smaller,
with a one percentage point increase in loans delinquent by 30 days or more associated with a
10% increase in total costs compared to 17% increase in total costs presented in Table 2. Unlike
the benchmark model, this coefficient is 0.06 and statistically significant in the specification with
17
output measured in dollars. For Models 1 & 2, technical progress (learning-by-doing) appears to
have an impact, with total costs initially decreasing and then increasing after 0.16 standard
deviations from the mean year when the output is measured by the number of clients (Model
1).
11
The environment in which MFIs operate affects their costs; this effect is mostly due to
competitive pressure. We find that a more supportive environment is associated with lower costs
only in the two-output model with deposits and loans measured in dollars. A more competitive
environment is associated with lower costs in all specifications with outputs measured in dollars,
whereas competition is associated with higher costs when outreach is accounted for by using the
number of active clients as the output. If the cost of reaching more borrowers increases as
competition increases, but the cost of distributing larger volume of loans decreases as
competition increases, then the results may indicate that competition is likely associated with
more funds for existing borrowers rather than with improved access for new borrowers.
The present specification indicates differences in cost only between NGOs (our base) and
banks, with banks facing higher costs according to all models except for the two-output models
with the number of active clients as outputs, which is the model that best reflects the objectives
of MFIs. This difference likely reflects the cost of regulation. The dummy for regulation is
statistically significant in all models except in the two-output model measured in dollars.
The lending methodology used by the MFIs affects costs, but the direction of the impact
reflects the dual nature of MFIs’ objectives and the possible tradeoffs between outreach and
sustainability. Compared with MFIs using individual lending, the cost of MFIs using group-
lending methods (village banking and solidarity lending) are higher when outputs are measured
11
We find nonlinear risk impact in the one output models (Table 4, Model 1&2). For Model 1, the inflection point at
which total cost starts to increase is 0.16 standard deviations because after taking the first derivative of the
demeaned variable and setting it to zero we have 0.0137/[2*(-0.0043)] =0.16.
18
in dollars but lower when output is measured by the number of active clients (borrowers or
borrowers and savers). These results once more suggest a tradeoff between serving many clients
and having a large loan portfolio.
When we add the above-discussed controls to cost functions estimated with the
subsamples of lending-only and deposit-mobilizing MFIs, we obtain slightly different results, as
shown in Table 5. For the lending-only MFIs, we find similar scale economies estimates, but this
time they are 0.01 to 0.02 points larger, not smaller, than the benchmark estimates by the
business model without additional controls. The most interesting result concerns the group of
deposit-mobilizing MFI, as we find that in this relatively small sample of 124 observations, MFIs
operate at minimum costs and have achieved constant returns to scale, as the coefficients on the
number of active borrowers and the number of active clients add to 0.96. We cannot reject the
hypothesis that this coefficient equals one and conclude that deposit-mobilizing MFIs with a
focus on outreach operate at (or very close to) minimum costs. However, we cannot confirm this
result in the specification measuring outputs in dollars, whose results suggest that MFIs should
still grow (their loan portfolios and savings) to achieve their optimal scale. These results are in
line with estimates for scope economies (from both lending and mobilizing deposits) in MFIs,
which found that deposit-mobilizing MFIs are more efficient, whereas lending-only MFIs have
greater potential for costs savings by transforming to accept deposits (Hartarska et al., 2011).
Costs increase with risk independently of how output is measured (dollars or active
clients) in both types of MFIs, but this time, the costs of an additional percentage point increase
in delinquencies by 30 days or more is associated with 4-5 percent higher costs. As in the
benchmark model, in the two-output models, the risk coefficient is statistically significant and
larger (0.15 compared to 0.11) in the model without additional controls (Table 3, Model 3).
19
These results confirm previous findings that serving more clients is more expensive. However,
although we again find evidence of technical progress, with cost falling by 2-3% per year in
lending-only MFIs, we find higher costs in time in deposit-mobilizing MFIs when outputs are
measured in dollars.
The results in Table 5 indicate that a better legal environment is associated with lower
costs in models with output(s) measured in dollars but not in models with outputs measured in
the number of clients. Competitive pressures decrease cost in lending-only MFIs with output
measured in dollars and in deposit-mobilizing MFIs with outputs measured by the number of
active clients. Again, for lending-only MFIs with output measured by the number of active
borrowers, competitive pressure increased costs, suggesting that it is costlier to reach more
borrowers than it is to lend larger sums. For MFIs operating in a country with a high
competition, such as in Peru, where in 2009, this index was 6, the cost will be 12 percent higher
(6+6) compared to MFIs in a country with an index of 4, such as Brazil in 2009. These results
are consistent with the argument that the environments in which MFIs operate matter (Ahlin et
al., 2010).
We find that compared to NGOs (the base group), co-ops have lower costs as lending-
only MFIs when the number of borrowers is the output measure. Co-ops also have lower costs in
deposit-mobilizing MFIs, whereas NBFIs only have lower costs in the model with active client
measures of outputs. The magnitude differences are fairly large but should be interpreted with
caution, as we have limited degrees of freedom with only 124 observations for deposit-
mobilizing MFIs, and at least part of the results may be due to over-fitting the model. Moreover,
the objective here is to measure scale, and the scale-measuring variable does not change
significantly, regardless of whether we include these controls.
20
The dummy measuring whether the MFI is regulated by a banking regulatory body is
statistically significant in all but the last regressions in Table 4 and suggest that compared to non-
regulated, regulated MFIs have much higher (likely compliance-induced) costs ranging from
10% to a third higher. However, these results may capture a different effect, because regulation
is associated with higher costs only in lending-only MFIs with output measured in numbers of
borrowers when regressions are estimated by business model.
The results also indicate that the lending methodology is associated with differences in
costs in that in models capturing the social mission (reflected in the use of the number of active
clients as the output measure), MFIs employing group lending methods have lower costs
compared to MFIs using individual lending (Models 1 & 3). However, in specifications with
output(s) measured in dollars, MFIs using group lending have higher costs compared to MFIs
using individual lending.
Our results conform to results obtained by studies exploring efficiency in MFIs in a
single country. For example, for Mexico, we find a scale economy of 0.59 for a model with
output measured as the number of active borrowers, which is comparable to the estimate of 0.64
for a sample of Mexico’s popular savings and credit institutions, which is calculated using the
stochastic frontier analysis presented in Paxton (2007).
5.3. Own-price elasticities and elasticities of substitutions among inputs
Elasticities of substitution between inputs and inputs own-price elasticity are calculated for
models with different output measures as well as by business model (lending-only and deposit-
mobilizing MFIs); the results of these calculations are shown in Table 6. As expected, all own-
price elasticities are negative and inelastic. We find smaller implied own-price elasticities than
Allen own-price elasticities, as expected (Stiroh, 1999). The Allen own-price elasticities show
21
that the financial capital is elastic in all groups of MFIs, whereas (physical) capital is elastic in
lending-only MFIs but has unit price elasticity in savings-mobilizing MFIs. Labor, on the other
hand, is inelastic in lending-only MFIs but elastic in savings-mobilizing MFIs.
The results indicate that all inputs - labor, financial and physical capital - are inelastic
substitutes, which indicates that a very large change in the price of one input (say labor) will be
needed to substitute it with another input (e.g., financial or physical capital). The relationship
between physical and financial capital in deposit-collecting MFIs with output in dollars is the
most inelastic, suggesting that only a very high cost of capital will induce these MFIs to use
more of their physical infrastructure, such as purchasing a mobile banking unit to collect savings
and distribute loans or renting rural office space once per week in place of maintaining a
permanent office.
The least inelastic substitutes are physical capital and labor for the group of lending-only
MFIs with loan output measured in dollars. This finding captures the fact that when the relative
price of labor increases, these MFIs may try to use more ATM-type loan disbursement
techniques. Overall, the calculated elasticities of substitutions by groups do not reveal a pattern
related to either the output measure used or the business model employed.
The results indicate that MFIs can continue to lower their costs, as they have been doing
with less physical capital (as physical capital was found to be elastic or unit elastic), and that
more ATMs, point-of-sale systems, and mobile phones could be used. Other cost-lowering
initiatives should continue to include partnerships with local post offices and existing banks. For
example, in Ecuador, loan clients of D-MIRO can complete their transactions in Servipago,
allowing the MFI to set up light branches without expensive security measurements and cash
counters.
22
To further understand how MFIs operate in various countries, we compare the elasticities
for MFIs operating in two very different countries: Peru and Brazil.
12
For example, Peruvian
MFIs exhibit the typical inelastic substitution effect between labor and financial capital, whereas
Brazilian MFIs have an extremely inelastic complementary relationship between labor and
financial capital, even in the outreach measuring models with number of active clients as outputs
even. These differences are most likely due to the typical competitive environment for Peruvian
MFIs. In Brazil, on the other hand, most lending is conducted through downscaling (lending
through units within existing financial institutions), suggesting that Brazilian MFIs do not have
to invest in new infrastructure but use already-existing infrastructure; thus, both labor and
complementary financial capital are needed to reach more borrowers.
13
5.4. Optimal scale
We can compute optimal scales from the above estimates by taking the derivative of the total
cost with respect to output and setting it to one because when this coefficient is one, the
organizations achieve constant returns to scale. Using this method, we compute the optimal scale
by group. We discuss only two results that fall within the sample because in most specifications,
the optimal scale values fall outside the range of the output, and although we technically could
use the maximum value as a reference point, doing so is not very informative.
For lending-only MFIs, we find that the optimal scale is approximately 9 million dollars
in the loan portfolio, which is more than twice the mean value of the sample of 4.62 million but
smaller than the maximum value of 34.6 million, suggesting that at least some MFIs in the
sample are operating above the optimal scale. For savings-collecting MFIs, we obtain within the
12
Peru and Brazil are different in terms of their size, population, and microfinance development, with Peru ranked in
the top three countries and Brazil in the bottom three countries in Latin America by the level of development of the
microfinance sector.
13
Regional elasticities are available from the authors.
23
sample only one value, which indicates that costs are minimized at approximately 34,260
borrowers, which is twice the mean of 15,690 borrowers but much smaller than the 134,770
borrowers of the largest observation. As previously noted, the average deposit-mobilizing MFIs
must make a much greater effort to reach the optimum number of borrowers (twice the mean)
compared with the average lending-only MFIs, for which costs are minimized at half the mean of
the loan portfolio in the sample. Again, we find that reaching more borrowers is more difficult
than generating a larger loan portfolio. Therefore, efficiency measures taking into account the
outreach mission or the number of clients reached appear to be preferable and should be
encouraged.
6. Conclusion
Efficiency analysis helps to understand how MFIs use inputs, such as labor, capital and financial
capital, to produce outputs, such as loans and deposits. Under the structured approach to
efficiency with cost function estimation, we assume that all MFIs strive to minimize their costs
and reach as many clients as possible, thus meeting the needs of microfinance clients who have
entrepreneurial ability but lack capital. Because outreach is the most important mission of MFIs,
it is best met by ensuring the highest cost savings by achieving scale efficiency. Surprisingly, no
study thus far has focused exclusively on identifying this sector’s scale economies and how MFIs
use inputs to achieve their goals.
This study is the first to estimate scale economies and elasticities of substitution among
inputs in MFIs using a sample of 989 annual cross-country observations. The results indicate
substantial cost savings from achieving the optimal scale for the average MFI in the sample,
which has a scale economy coefficient of 0.77 or higher. The calculated elasticities of
substitution suggest that only very high changes in input prices will be sufficient to induce the
24
substitution of one type of input with another and that depositmobilizing MFIs may be
operating at their optimal scale if their focus is on outreach.
The results that the microfinance industry has increasing returns to scale suggest the need
to grow and consolidate to benefit from lower per unit costs. Staying small does not seem
optimal for MFIs interested in reducing their costs. The results are supportive of the existing
push toward the transformation of NGO-MFIs into regulated deposit-mobilizing MFIs because
as we find, these MFIs are most likely to be scale efficient. We find evidence for technical
progress in lending-only MFIs and not in their savings-mobilizing counterparts. This finding
might be a result of regulators continually imposing regulations that affect MFIs costs,
neutralizing the effect of technical progress. With an increased scale of MFIs, management and
governance challenges become even more important and must be addressed (Mersland and
Strøm, 2009). Policy makers should focus on building the governance and management capacity
in growing MFIs and study how they may be connected to scale (dis)economies.
To grow, MFIs must secure more funding from lenders or depositors. This need is likely
to push MFIs in a more commercial direction. Because we do find that serving more borrowers is
costlier than extending larger loans, the potential for a mission drift with commercialization in
the sector must be recognized. Therefore, the debate on the tradeoffs from mission drift and
efficiency is likely to continue.
Industry consolidation could bring about future cost savings beneficial to both investors
and individuals as well as offering a benefit to MFI clients who have entrepreneurial skills but
lack access to financial services. An example of a recent takeover is that by Equity Bank in
Kenya of UML in Uganda. Although few consolidations have been observed, given the increased
25
competition and potential for scale economies, more takeovers in the future would not be
surprising.
26
Table 1. Summary Statistics
Variable
All MFIs
Lending Only MFIs
Deposit Mobilizing MFIs
Total Cost (US$ Millions)
1.2
1.12
1.43
(1.20)
(1.10)
(1.55)
Y1($) - Loan Portfolio (US$ Millions)
5.02
4.62
6.1
(5.76)
(5.25)
(6.87)
Y2 ($) - Deposits (US$ Millions)
0.88
3.35
(2.90)
(4.85)
Y1(#) - Number of Borrowers (Thousands)
11.39
10.11
14.69
(21.31)
(20.00)
(24.10)
Y2(#) - Number of Savers (Thousands)
2.91
15.58
(11.25)
(21.97)
Price of Labor
7,398
8,020
5,697
(4,316)
(4,304)
(3,844)
Price of Fixed Capital
2.79
2.97
2.26
(3.2)
(3.33)
(2.74)
Price of Financial Capital
0.06
0.06
0.06
(0.05)
(0.05)
(0.05)
Risk - Loans Overdue > 30 days/Loan Portfolio
0.07
0.06
0.09
(0.10)
(0.09)
(0.11)
Legal Environment
4.25
4.22
4.32
(1.57)
(1.64)
(1.36)
Market Competition
4.39
4.48
4.11
(1.55)
(1.55)
(1.49)
Regulated (by Central bank laws)
0.27
0.14
0.63
(0.45)
(0.35)
(0.48)
Type
BANK
0.02
0.01
0.06
(0.15)
(0.09)
(0.24)
NBFI
0.29
0.26
0.35
(0.45)
(0.44)
(0.47)
NGO
0.54
0.70
0.11
(0.50)
(0.46)
(0.31)
COOP
0.13
0.01
0.45
(0.34)
(0.11)
(0.49)
Other
0.02
0.02
0.01
(0.14)
(0.15)
(0.13)
Loan Method
Bank
0.15
0.17
0.09
(0.36)
(0.38)
(0.28)
Solidarity Groups
0.22
0.23
0.18
(0.42)
(0.42)
(0.38)
Individual Loans
0.62
0.59
0.72
(0.48)
(0.49)
(0.44)
Total Assets (US$ Millions)
5.90
5.30
7.47
(6.60)
(5.96)
(7.89)
Observations
989
725
260
27
Table 2 Pooled Regression Results a
Variable
One Output (Lending Only)
Two Outputs (Deposit Mobilizing)
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Y (#)
Y($)
Y1&Y2 (#)
Y1&Y2($)
Constant
0.318**
-0.679***
0.569***
-0.648***
(0.1356)
(0.111)
(0.1621)
(0.122)
ln(Y1) (Loans in #)
0.761***
0.690***
0.746***
(0.026)
(0.056)
(0.034)
ln(Y1) (Loans in $)
0.887***
(0.019)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in #)
0.118***
(0.041)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in $)
0.106***
(0.022)
ln(PLaborb)
0.430***
0.404***
0.379***
0.347***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.009)
(0.007)
ln(PCapitalb)
0.170***
0.194***
0.193***
0.231***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.009)
(0.007)
ln(Y1)2
0.019
0.086***
0.022
0.088***
(0.016)
(0.015)
(0.016)
(0.016)
ln(Y2)2
0.0211*
0.0150***
(0.0125)
(0.0033)
ln(Y1)*ln(Y2)
-0.0125*
-0.0108***
(0.0065)
(0.0026)
ln(PLabor)2
0.069***
0.062***
0.063***
0.056***
(0.003)
(0.004)
(0.004)
(0.004)
ln(PCapital)2
0.061***
0.069***
0.057***
0.070***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(PLabor)*ln(PCapital)
-0.035***
-0.036***
-0.031***
-0.035***
(0.002)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.002)
ln(Y1)*ln(PLabor)
0.007**
-0.0287***
0.009***
-0.022***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(Y2)*ln(PLabor)
-0.0100***
-0.0065***
(0.0011)
(0.0006)
ln(Y1)*ln(PCapital)
-0.012***
0.018***
-0.015***
0.014***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(Y2)*ln(PCapital)
0.005***
0.004***
(0.001)
(0.001)
ln(Risk)
0.166***
-0.006
0.150***
-0.042
(0.024)
(0.018)
(0.035)
(0.026)
ln(Risk)2
0.009
-0.020**
-0.002
-0.025**
(0.012)
(0.010)
(0.013)
(0.010)
ln(Risk)*ln(PLabor)
-0.013***
-0.019***
-0.010***
-0.014***
(0.003)
(0.002)
(0.003)
(0.002)
ln(Risk)*ln(PCapital)
0.002
0.007***
0.0002
0.004
(0.003)
(0.002)
(0.003)
(0.0024)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y1)
0.025***
0.005
0.026***
0.005
(0.009)
(0.008)
(0.010)
(0.008)
a All the variables in this table, including the variables in the subsequent tables, are demeaned to facilitate the
calculation of the scale economy.
b Prices of labor and financial capital are normalized (divided) by the price of physical capital and labeled as PLabor
and PCapital respectively.
28
Variable
One Output (Lending Only)
Two Outputs (Deposit Mobilizing)
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Y (#)
Y($)
Y1&Y2 (#)
Y1&Y2($)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y2)
0.004
-0.001
(0.004)
(0.002)
T
-0.016
-0.012
-0.011
-0.004
(0.011)
(0.009)
(0.023)
(0.014)
T2
0.018***
0.008*
0.013**
0.007*
(0.006)
(0.004)
(0.006)
(0.004)
T*ln(PLabor)
-0.001
-0.001
0.0003
0.001
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
T*ln(PCapital)
0.008***
0.009***
0.010***
0.007***
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
T*ln(Y1)
-0.011*
-0.006
0.002
-0.003
(0.007)
(0.006)
(0.007)
(0.006)
T*ln(Y2)
0.002
0.0003
(0.003)
(0.001)
T* ln(Risk)
0.008
0.014***
-0.002
0.015***
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.006)
(0.005)
Country Dummy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Observations
970
989
844
985
Cost R-Squared
0.860
0.906
0.891
0.907
Economies of Scale
0.76
0.89
0.81
0.85
Robust standard errors are in parentheses *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1
29
Table 3 Regression Results by Business Model (Group)
Variable
Lending-only MFIs
Deposit-mobilizing MFIs
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
Constant
0.376***
-0.641***
1.154***
1.879***
(0.130)
(0.116)
(0.416)
(0.398)
ln(Y1) (Loans in #)
0.778***
0.583***
(0.030)
(0.081)
ln(Y1) (Loans in $)
0.887***
0.726***
(0.024)
(0.054)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in #)
0.285***
(0.072)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in $)
0.210***
(0.040)
ln(PLabora)
0.457***
0.438***
0.366***
0.323***
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.012)
(0.009)
ln(PCapitala)
0.161***
0.174***
0.187***
0.252***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.014)
(0.010)
ln(Y1)2
-0.001
0.081***
0.198***
0.039
(0.020)
(0.018)
(0.048)
(0.059)
ln(Y2)2
0.1143***
0.048***
(0.0286)
(0.014)
ln(Y1)*ln(Y2)
-0.1477***
-0.018
(0.0299)
(0.024)
ln(PLabor)2
0.064***
0.058***
0.070***
0.062***
(0.004)
(0.004)
(0.007)
(0.006)
ln(PCapital)2
0.052***
0.063***
0.064***
0.085***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.007)
(0.005)
ln(PLabor)*ln(PCapital)
-0.033***
-0.036***
-0.029***
-0.034***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.005)
(0.004)
ln(Y1)*ln(PLabor)
0.002
-0.032***
0.036***
0.018***
(0.003)
(0.004)
(0.008)
(0.006)
ln(Y2)*ln(PLabor)
-0.0134*
-0.0228***
(0.008)
(0.004)
ln(Y1)*ln(PCapital)
-0.002
0.023***
-0.035***
-0.026***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.010)
(0.008)
ln(Y2)*ln(PCapital)
-0.013
0.019***
(0.010)
(0.005)
ln(Risk)
0.106***
-0.032
0.105**
-0.011
(0.027)
(0.021)
(0.051)
(0.045)
ln(Risk)2
-0.004
-0.023**
0.0001
-0.020
(0.011)
(0.012)
(0.023)
(0.018)
ln(Risk)*ln(PLabor)
-0.009***
-0.014***
-0.014**
-0.011**
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.006)
(0.004)
ln(Risk)*ln(PCapital)
0.005*
0.009***
-0.011
-0.008
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.007)
(0.005)
ln(Risk)*ln(Y1)
0.009
0.001
0.011
-0.008
(0.011)
(0.010)
(0.023)
(0.0120)
ln(Risk)*ln(Y2)
0.013
0.007
(0.022)
(0.015)
a Prices of labor and financial capital are normalized (divided) by the price of physical capital and labeled as PLabor
and PCapital respectively.
30
Variable
Lending-only MFIs
Deposit-mobilizing MFIs
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
T
-0.033***
-0.017*
0.014
0.032
(0.012)
(0.010)
(0.024)
(0.020)
T2
0.005
0.002
0.018
0.017*
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.017)
(0.010)
T*ln(PLabor)
0.001
0.002
-0.001
0.004
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.005)
(0.003)
T*ln(PCapital)
0.008***
0.007***
0.014**
0.0002
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.006)
(0.004)
T*ln(Y1)
-0.001
-0.001
-0.069***
-0.001
(0.008)
(0.007)
(0.019)
(0.016)
T*ln(Y2)
0.055***
-0.016**
(0.018)
(0.008)
T*ln(Risk)
-0.005
0.020***
0.014
0.004
(0.007)
(0.006)
(0.015)
(0.012)
Country Dummy
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Observations
688
725
156
260
Cost R-Square
0.883
0.917
0.958
0.910
Economies of Scale
0.78
0.89
0.87
0.94
Robust standard errors are in parentheses, *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1
31
Table 4 Regressions with Additional Controls for All MFIs
Variable
One Output (Lending Only)
Two Outputs (Deposit Mobilizing)
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
Constant
0.175
-0.474***
0.034
-0.374**
(0.167)
(0.136)
(0.207)
(0.150)
ln(Y1) (Loans in #)
0.709***
0.581***
(0.029)
(0.066)
ln(Y1) (Loans in $)
0.881***
0.714***
(0.021)
(0.039)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in #)
0.178***
(0.043)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in $)
0.114***
(0.024)
ln(Labora)
0.425***
0.40***
0.374***
0.345***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.010)
(0.007)
ln(Capitala)
0.167***
0.192***
0.190***
0.231***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.010)
(0.007)
ln(Y1)2
-0.025
0.075***
0.006
0.078***
(0.017)
(0.015)
(0.018)
(0.016)
ln(Y2)2
0.044***
0.016***
(0.013)
(0.004)
ln(Y1)*ln(Y2)
-0.028***
-0.013***
(0.008)
(0.003)
ln(PLabor)2
0.073***
0.068***
0.067***
0.061***
(0.004)
(0.004)
(0.004)
(0.004)
ln(PCapital)2
0.0652***
0.073***
0.057***
0.073***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(PLabor)*ln(PCapitl)
-0.037***
-0.039***
-0.030***
-0.036***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(Y1)*ln(PLabor)
0.004
-0.033***
0.005
-0.026***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(Y2)*ln(PLabor)
-0.009***
-0.006***
(0.001)
(0.001)
ln(Y1)*ln(PCapital)
-0.014***
0.020***
-0.017***
0.014***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
ln(Y2)*ln(PCapital)
0.005***
0.005***
(0.001)
(0.006)
ln(Risk)
0.093***
0.064***
0.060
0.0003
(0.026)
(0.020)
(0.040)
(0.028)
ln(Risk)2
0.002
0.009
-0.008
0.004
(0.012)
(0.010)
(0.013)
(0.010)
ln(Risk)*ln(PLabor)
-0.013***
-0.019***
-0.009***
-0.014***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.002)
ln(Risk)*ln(PCapital)
0.001
0.005*
-0.001
0.001
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.002)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y1)
0.007
-0.003
0.011
-0.003
(0.010)
(0.008)
(0.010)
(0.008)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y2)
-0.001
-0.005**
(0.005)
(0.002)
a Prices of labor and financial capital are normalized (divided) by the price of physical capital and labeled as PLabor
and PCapital respectively.
32
Variable
One Output (Lending Only)
Two Outputs (Deposit Mobilizing)
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
T
-0.004
-0.009
0.038
-0.004
(0.011)
(0.009)
(0.028)
(0.015)
T2
0.014***
0.007*
0.005
0.006
(0.005)
(0.004)
(0.006)
(0.004)
T*ln(PLabor)
-0.0001
-0.001
0.001
0.001
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
T*ln(PCapital)
0.008***
0.009***
0.011***
0.008***
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.002)
T*ln(Y1)
-0.006
-0.007
-0.001
-0.002
(0.007)
(0.006)
(0.008)
(0.006)
T*ln(Y2)
0.009***
0.0002
(0.003)
(0.001)
T* ln(Risk)
0.005
0.014***
-0.005
0.0150***
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.006)
(0.005)
Legal Environment
0.003
-0.024
0.028
-0.028*
(0.019)
(0.016)
(0.019)
(0.016)
Market Competition
0.030*
-0.040***
0.037**
-0.033**
(0.017)
(0.014)
(0.018)
(0.014)
Bank Regulation
0.336***
0.116**
0.230***
0.055
(0.057)
(0.048)
(0.063)
(0.049)
Bank
0.426***
0.375***
-0.082
0.279**
(0.164)
(0.132)
(0.293)
(0.133)
NBFI
-0.029
0.045
0.059
0.059
(0.060)
(0.050)
(0.063)
(0.050)
Coop
0.074
-0.038
-0.125
-0.217***
(0.071)
(0.059)
(0.135)
(0.074)
Others
-0.097
0.065
0.187
0.191*
(0.123)
(0.102)
(0.131)
(0.101)
Village Bank Loan
-0.399***
0.257***
-0.405***
0.277***
(0.058)
(0.047)
(0.060)
(0.047)
Solidarity Loans
-0.370***
0.166***
-0.339***
0.198***
(0.049)
(0.041)
(0.050)
(0.04)
Country
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Observations
859
875
746
875
Cost R-Squared
0.88
0.92
0.90
0.91
Economies of Scale
0.71
0.88
0.76
0.83
Robust standard errors are in parentheses, *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1
33
Table 5. Regressions with Additional Controls, by Business Model (Groups)
Variable
Lending-only MFIs
Deposit-mobilizing MFIs
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
Constant
0.119
-0.381**
1.572***
1.152***
(0.168)
(0.150)
(0.595)
(0.243)
ln(Y1) (Loans in #)
0.782***
0.498***
(0.032)
(0.135)
ln(Y1) (Loans in $)
0.901***
0.696***
(0.024)
(0.057)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in #)
0.467***
(0.081)
ln(Y2) (Deposits in $)
0.179***
(0.041)
ln(Labora)
0.444***
0.430***
0.370***
0.325***
(0.007)
(0.006)
(0.013)
(0.008)
ln(Capitala)
0.162***
0.174***
0.169***
0.247***
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.015)
(0.011)
ln(Y1)2
-0.030
0.067***
0.279***
-0.044
(0.020)
(0.018)
(0.056)
(0.059)
ln(Y2)2
0.145***
0.054***
(0.029)
(0.015)
ln(Y1)*ln(Y2)
-0.143***
-0.016
(0.031)
(0.025)
ln(Labor)2
0.067***
0.062***
0.075***
0.067***
(0.005)
(0.005)
(0.009)
(0.007)
ln(Capital)2
0.048***
0.059***
0.089***
0.137***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.012)
(0.007)
ln(PLabor)*ln(Capitl)
-0.028***
-0.033***
-0.044***
-0.057***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.009)
(0.006)
ln(Y1)*ln(PLabor)
-0.004
-0.036***
0.039***
0.025***
(0.004)
(0.004)
(0.009)
(0.007)
ln(Y2)*ln(PLabor)
-0.015**
-0.029***
(0.008)
(0.004)
ln(Y1)*ln(PCapital)
-0.001
0.026***
-0.040***
-0.036***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.010)
(0.009)
ln(Y2)*ln(PCapital)
-0.015
0.032***
(0.009)
(0.005)
ln(Risk)
0.047*
0.040*
0.149**
0.036
(0.027)
(0.022)
(0.062)
(0.042)
ln(Risk)2
-0.014
0.003
0.038
-0.008
(0.014)
(0.012)
(0.026)
(0.016)
ln(Risk)*ln(PLabor)
-0.012***
-0.016***
-0.006
-0.003
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.007)
(0.004)
ln(Risk)*ln(PCapital)
0.008***
0.010***
-0.019**
-0.020***
(0.003)
(0.003)
(0.008)
(0.006)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y1)
-0.011
-0.005
0.020
-0.061***
(0.012)
(0.010)
(0.030)
(0.016)
ln(Risk)* ln(Y2)
-0.031
0.032**
(0.022)
(0.013)
T
-0.033***
-0.019*
0.006
0.031*
a Prices of labor and financial capital are normalized (divided) by the price of physical capital and labeled as PLabor
and PCapital respectively.
34
Variable
Lending-only MFIs
Deposit-mobilizing MFIs
Loans (#)
Loans ($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
(0.013)
(0.010)
(0.032)
(0.018)
T2
0.001
-0.001
0.028*
0.003
(0.006)
(0.005)
(0.015)
(0.007)
T*ln(PLabor)
0.001
0.002
0.003
0.002
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.005)
(0.003)
T*ln(PCapital)
0.008***
0.008***
0.0079
0.003
(0.002)
(0.002)
(0.0064)
(0.004)
T*ln(Y1)
0.002
0.003
-0.093***
-0.002
(0.008)
(0.007)
(0.020)
(0.013)
T*ln(Y2)
0.048**
-0.002
(0.018)
(0.007)
T* ln(Risk)
-0.004
0.018***
0.019
0.005
(0.007)
(0.006)
(0.014)
(0.009)
Legal Environment
0.019
-0.041**
0.040
-0.076***
(0.021)
(0.019)
(0.053)
(0.028)
Market competition
0.057***
-0.031*
-0.175***
0.002
(0.021)
(0.018)
(0.032)
(0.020)
Bank regulation
0.264***
0.014
0.293
0.014
(0.072)
(0.063)
(0.189)
(0.087)
Bank
-0.190
0.129
0.147
(0.292)
(0.267)
(0.147)
NBFI
0.023
0.048
-1.183***
-0.155
(0.068)
(0.060)
(0.368)
(0.122)
Coop
-0.816**
0.152
-1.062***
-0.581***
(0.350)
(0.185)
(0.361)
(0.127)
Others
0.013
0.183
-0.509**
(0.137)
(0.118)
(0.235)
Village Bank Loan
-0.412***
0.298***
-0.649**
0.356***
(0.064)
(0.053)
(0.271)
(0.099)
Solidarity Group
Loan
-0.335***
0.299***
-0.003
-0.056
(0.053)
(0.048)
(0.120)
(0.075)
Country
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Observations
622
661
124
214
Cost R-Squared
0.90
0.92
0.96
0.90
Economies of scale
0.78
0.90
0.96
0.88
Robust standard errors are in parentheses, *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1
35
Table 6 Allen Own-, Cross-Price, and Implied Own-Price Elasticities for Four Output
Specifications, by Business Model
Elasticity
Lending-only MFIs
Deposit-mobilizing MFIs
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Loans(#)
Loans($)
Loans&Deposits (#)
Loans&Deposits ($)
Allen LK
0.825
0.877
0.722
0.805
Allen LF
0.562
0.509
0.655
0.608
Allen KF
0.676
0.530
0.620
0.463
Allen LL
-0.832
-0.840
-1.206
-1.300
Allen KK
-1.354
-1.363
-1.003
-0.996
Allen FF
-3.215
-2.815
-2.150
-1.706
Own LL
-0.384
-0.395
-0.397
-0.438
Own KK
-0.616
-0.617
-0.506
-0.489
Own FF
-0.537
-0.446
-0.523
-0.420
36
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40
Appendix
Table 1. Distribution of Observations by Country and Year
Country
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total
Albania
0
2
2
3
3
2
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
14
Argentina
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
4
Armenia
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
5
Azerbaijan
0
0
0
0
0
1
3
4
4
2
0
0
0
14
Bangladesh
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
2
Benin
0
0
3
3
4
4
3
1
2
1
0
0
0
21
Bolivia
0
2
2
10
13
13
14
9
3
3
1
0
0
70
Bosnia Hercegovina
0
0
1
2
6
8
6
4
2
1
0
0
0
30
Brazil
0
0
4
8
9
8
8
4
1
1
1
2
0
46
Bulgaria
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
2
Burkina Faso
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
2
2
1
0
0
0
7
Cambodia
0
0
0
0
2
4
5
7
7
3
1
0
0
29
Cameroun
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
0
0
0
9
Chad
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
3
Chile
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
4
Colombia
2
3
5
5
3
4
2
1
1
1
0
0
0
27
Croatia
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
1
Dominican Republic
1
1
1
2
1
2
3
2
2
0
0
0
0
15
DRC - Kinshasa
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
2
East Timor
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
Ecuador
0
0
1
5
6
10
13
12
14
4
3
1
0
69
Egypt
0
0
0
3
3
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
9
El Salvador
0
0
0
2
3
4
2
2
4
2
2
1
0
22
Ethiopia
0
0
0
0
0
1
5
5
6
6
0
0
0
23
Georgia
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
3
4
0
0
0
0
11
Ghana
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
2
0
0
0
5
Guatemala
0
0
0
1
1
2
3
3
4
3
2
2
0
21
Guinea
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
Haiti
0
0
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
2
1
1
0
13
Honduras
0
0
0
1
1
3
6
7
6
2
2
1
0
29
India
0
0
3
3
4
2
2
1
3
5
1
0
0
24
Jordan
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
2
0
0
0
0
8
Kazakhstan
0
0
0
1
0
0
1
2
2
2
0
0
0
8
Kenya
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
2
3
4
2
1
0
16
Kosovo
0
0
0
1
1
1
2
2
2
0
0
0
0
9
Kyrgyzstan
0
0
0
2
2
2
1
2
1
1
0
0
0
11
Madagascar
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
5
Malawi
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
3
Mali
0
0
1
1
1
1
1
1
2
2
0
0
0
10
41
Country
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total
Mexico
0
2
3
5
6
10
10
9
8
3
2
2
0
60
Moldova
0
0
0
0
0
2
2
2
1
0
0
0
0
7
Mongolia
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
1
1
0
0
0
5
Montenegro
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
4
Morocco
0
0
1
1
3
4
3
2
2
0
0
0
0
16
Mozambique
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
4
Nepal
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
0
0
0
2
Nicaragua
0
1
2
3
4
6
7
8
6
2
1
1
0
41
Niger
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
0
4
Nigeria
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
2
Paraguay
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
2
2
1
1
1
0
11
Peru
1
2
4
10
23
22
20
17
6
2
2
2
1
112
Philippines
0
0
0
0
1
2
2
3
1
0
0
0
0
9
Rep of Congo Brazz
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
3
Romania
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
Russian Federation
0
1
2
2
1
2
4
7
9
5
0
0
0
33
Rwanda
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
2
3
0
0
0
8
Senegal
0
0
0
1
2
2
2
2
2
2
0
0
0
13
Serbia
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
2
South Africa
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
3
Tajikistan
0
0
0
0
0
0
2
3
3
1
0
0
0
9
Tanzania
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
1
1
1
0
6
Togo
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
1
3
3
0
0
0
8
Tunisia
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
Uganda
0
0
0
1
1
1
1
1
3
3
0
0
0
11
Vietnam
0
0
0
1
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
3
Zambia
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2
1
0
0
0
4
Total
4
15
37
83
117
145
156
155
146
88
26
16
1
989
42
Table 2. Summary Statistics of Key Variables
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
Total
ROE
16.6
2.4
8.7
-7.2
2.8
1.1
9.7
8.7
-44.5
12.5
16.7
15.3
13.2
-1.4
ROA
7.2
0.1
0.2
0.7
2.3
2.8
2.9
3.3
2.7
0.7
4.6
4.8
8.1
2.4
Short-term Liability
27.6
25.5
23.6
22.4
25.2
26.9
27.4
29.3
32.6
32.7
36.1
38.9
3.9
28.3
Debt/equity
2.0
2.6
2.1
2.6
2.4
2.9
3.2
4.4
3.3
6.6
3.7
2.3
0.6
3.5
Loan ratio
117.3
96.3
89.9
86.8
87.8
88.7
88.5
84.0
82.0
88.2
74.6
73.3
67.5
86.3
Assets (US$ Millions)
5.6
6.8
5.2
6.3
6.9
6.5
6.0
5.2
5.3
4.7
7.0
8.0
5.4
5.9
Legal
2.7
3.6
3.8
4.1
4.3
4.2
4.3
4.3
4.2
4.3
4.5
4.9
7
4.2
Market Competition
3.7
3.9
3.9
4.3
4.5
4.5
4.5
4.4
4.3
4.3
4.5
4.5
7
4.4
Bank Regulation
0.3
0.3
0.2
0.2
0.2
0.2
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.3
0.2
0.3
0
0.3
Type
Bank
-
-
0.03
0.02
0.03
0.03
0.02
0.01
0.01
0.02
0.04
-
-
0.02
NBFI
0.25
0.47
0.24
0.22
0.22
0.23
0.26
0.31
0.34
0.41
0.35
0.31
-
0.29
NGO
0.75
0.47
0.62
0.66
0.65
0.60
0.56
0.50
0.45
0.34
0.46
0.63
1
0.54
Coop
-
-
0.08
0.07
0.09
0.11
0.13
0.16
0.18
0.19
0.12
0.06
-
0.13
Other
-
0.07
0.03
0.02
0.01
0.03
0.02
0.02
0.01
0.03
0.04
-
-
0.02
Loan Method
Village bank
-
0.13
0.22
0.16
0.18
0.14
0.14
0.16
0.13
0.16
0.19
0.13
1
0.15
Solidarity Group
-
-
0.14
0.09
0.14
0.15
0.22
0.31
0.32
0.38
0.19
0.19
-
0.22
Individual loan
1.00
0.87
0.64
0.75
0.68
0.71
0.64
0.54
0.55
0.46
0.62
0.69
-
0.62
Observations
4
15
37
83
117
145
156
155
146
88
26
16
1
989
* Short-term Liability and Loan Ratio are scaled by assets
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