Hoisted from the Archives: What Was the Point of Robert Woodward's "The Agenda"?

Rachael Meager: Understanding the Average Effect of Microcredit: "The idea that giving small loans to poor households would help them escape poverty was once considered so compelling that it won Mohammed Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize. The global microloan portfolio is now worth over 102 billion and is growing yearly (Microfinance Barometer 2017). Yet microcredit now enjoys so little support among academics and policymakers that the Washington Post recently felt the need to assure us that 'microcredit isn’t dead'.... To estimate how much the effect of microcredit varies across studies, and how uncertain we should be about the effect of expanding access to microloans in new settings, I perform a Bayesian hierarchical analysis of the microcredit literature (Meager 2019).... I find that, in general, the effects on these outcomes are likely to be small and uncertain, around 7% of the average control group’s mean outcome.... Overall, there is little evidence that microcredit harms borrowers as was feared by some of its critics, but there is also little evidence of the transformative positive effects initially claimed by its advocates...