|Résumé :||Remittances (money sent home by migrants) to developing countries are estimated to have reached US$ 325 billion in 2010 (World Bank, 2011). These amounts reflect only officially recorded transfers, transferred through formal channels and calculated as the sum of three items of the Balance of Payments Statistics, namely: compensation of employees, workers’ remittances and migrants’ transfers (Salomone, 2006; Aggarwal et al., 2011). Unrecorded remittances could represent 50 to 100% of recorded flows (World Bank, 2006; Hagen-Zanker and Siegel, 2007).
Remittances are three times the size of official development assistance (ODA) and the second source of external funds after foreign direct investment (FDI) for developing countries. Given their weight in receiving countries’ economies and household livelihood in many developing countries (for instance, remittances flows represent more than 25% of Lesotho’ and Moldavia’s gross domestic product in 2008), there is increasing policy and research interest in remittances as development resource. Furthermore, unlike FDI and ODA, remittances have the particularity to be directly affected to families, even those in remote areas, where development funds don’t arrive (Shaw, 2006). The thesis addresses the relationship between microfinance and the impact remittances have on domestic investment in developing countries.
Like other sources of external finance, remittances allow the economy to invest in human and physical capital (health, education), which contribute to growth (Ziesemer, 2006; Acosta et al., 2008). However, as remittances may be either directly consumed (remittances allow households to smooth their consumption, see for instance Lucas and Stark, 1985 and Glytsos, 2005) or used to invest in physical and human capital, it appears that their impact on domestic investment is perceived to be low or limited, given the amount of money they represent each year. According to literature, this is due to the small share that is dedicated to the launch or the support of economic activities. Actually, the allocation between consumption and investment, which depends on various factors such as the level of dependence households have with remittances, the migrant gender, and the existence of a credit constraint, varies on average around 10-20% of remittances that are not directly consumed (Salomone, 2006; Sorensen, 2004; Orozco, 2004). In the thesis we focus on the share of remittances that is saved and wonder how to maximize its impact, whatever this share. We are interested in the role of microfinance institutions, as actors of the financial sector, on this issue. Actually, two recent contributions, Mundaca (2009), and Giuliano and Ruiz-Arranz (2009), stress the role of the development of the financial sector. More precisely, the thesis focuses on a set of questions or issues that may be important for the microfinance industry to consider when interested in remittances flows and the deposits they may generate.
Financial development is generally defined as “increasing efficiency of allocating financial resources and monitoring capital projects, through encouraging competition and increasing the importance of the financial system. In other words, the development is about structure, size and efficiency of a financial system” (Huang, 2006). A large line of research work provides evidence that development of a financial system is a key driver of economic growth.
King and Levine (1993) argue that greater financial development increases economic growth. Levine and Zervos (1993) shows that growth is related to stock market activity, among other variables. Levine (1999) finds a significant effect of determinants of financial intermediation on economic growth. Beck et al. (2004) find strong evidence in favor of the financial-services view which stresses that financial systems provide key financial services, crucial for firm creation, industrial expansion, and economic growth. Levine (1997), Levine et al. (2000), and Beck et al. (2000) also stress the impact of financial development on growth. There is also an empirical literature that argues that the expansion and the deepening of the financial system lead to higher investment (see for instance Rajan and Zingales, 1998; Demirgüç-Kunt and Macksimovic, 1998).
By providing financial services to people whom traditionally do not have access to financial institutions, microfinance institutions (MFIs) may contribute to increasing the size of the financial system in many developing countries. Actually, according to the CFSI’s 2011 report, the one thousand-plus MFIs that report to the Microfinance Information eXchange (MIX) have 88 million borrowers and 76 million savers. Total assets of these MFIs amount to US$ 60 billion (CFSI, 2011).
The quite recent literature on remittances, financial development and growth can be categorized under two main approaches (Brown et al., 2011). One approach explores the relationship between remittances and financial development, with a view to assessing their impact on the level of financial development in receiving countries. The underlying argument is that remittances potentially contribute to financial development through both demand- and supply- side effects: by increasing households’ demand for and use of banking services, and by increasing the availability of loanable funds to the financial sector. According to this approach which consider the direct relationship between remittances and financial development, remittances have an impact on both financial outreach and depth in receiving countries, respectively through the fostering of financial literacy among remittances receivers and through the increasing availability of funds (see for instance Gupta et al., 2009, Aggarwal et al., 2011, Brown et al., 2011).
The second approach examines the remittances – financial development relationship indirectly by investigating how the given level of financial development in a country affects the impact of remittances on growth. This growth-focused approach allows for interactions between remittances and financial development in estimating growth equations for remittances receiving countries. Within the set of studies related to this approach, two opposing positions have emerged. The first position hypothesizes that the greater availability of financial services helps channel remittances to better use, thus boosting their overall impact on growth. Remittances are seen as financial flows in search of good investment projects, and good financial institutions are needed to facilitate the channeling of remittances to such investments. In this sense, remittances and financial system are complements. This position is supported by Mundaca (2009) who find that financial intermediation increases the responsiveness of growth to remittances in Latin America and the Caribbean over the 1970-2002 period. Other few studies also argue that channeling remittances through the banking sector enhances their development impact (see for instance Hinojosa Ojeda, 2003 and Terry and Wilson, 2005).
The other position argues that remittances contribute to investment and growth by substituting for inefficiencies in credit and capital markets. Remittances provide an alternative source of funding for profitable investments by alleviating liquidity constraints. In this sense, remittances promote growth more in less financially developed countries by substituting for lack of credits from financial institutions. This hypothesis is supported by Giuliano and Ruiz-Arranz (2009) who argue that poor households use remittances to finance informal investment in poorly developed financial markets with liquidity constraints. In their study, they interact remittances with a measure of financial development in standard growth equations, for a sample of 73 countries over the 1975-2002 period. Ramirez and Sharma (2009) obtain similar results using data from 23 Latin American countries over the 1990-2005 period.
The thesis contributes to existing knowledge on this indirect, growth-focused approach. Given the two existing opposite views on remittances impact on investment and the level of financial intermediation (a high level of financial development implies a high level of financial intermediation), in the thesis we first analyze the relationship that links these variables. We then analyses questions related to microfinance institutions (MFIs), as financial intermediaries.
Our focus on microfinance is made from two different perspectives, leading to different research questions. First, from the demand or microfinance clients’ perspective, we question about the interest for them to have MFIs entering the money transfers market (through the money transfer facilities and/or financial products that may be directly linked to remittances). The underlying argument is that MFIs enter the remittances market by providing money transfer services because there is a need for such services (and for other financial services) from their (potential) clients who are remittances receivers and migrants. According to this point of view, MFIs can contribute to recycle remittances flows into the financial system by contributing to the financial inclusion of remittances receivers and migrants thanks to the supply of adapted financial products. The occurrence of this assumption can therefore be measured by considering the involvement of MFIs on the remittances market as a determinant of financial inclusion indicators. Second, from the supply or MFIs’ perspective, we question about the rationale for MFIs to enter the remittances market. Here, the underlying argument is that MFIs are interested in operating on the remittances market because working with migrants can potentially contributes to the improvement of their financial and social performances. According to this perspective, remittances market opportunities as well as MFIs’ characteristics will determine the offer of money transfer services by MFIs. This supply approach therefore leads to the consideration of money transfers activities in MFIs as depending on remittances market opportunities and institutional variables.
Therefore, our papers related to microfinance will be articulated around these two questions (interest for clients and rationale for MFIs to have MFIs operating on the money transfers industry) by focusing, as argued earlier, on the deposits resulting from remittances flows.
As a matter of facts, by studying the relationship between microfinance and remittances respectively through the demand and the supply perspective, we raise causality issues related to MFIs’ money transfer activities and their impacts on MFIs performances. Actually, MFIs’ characteristics such as the right to collect public savings, as a potential source of efficiency gains, may significantly determine the supply of a money transfer service (MFIs’ perspective), while a money transfer service may itself be the determinant of some MFIs’ performance indicators related to financial inclusion, such as the volume of deposits made by clients (demand approach). However, given currently existing data on MFIs’ involvement on the remittances market we cannot consider simultaneously both perspectives in order to implement causality treatment techniques. Actually, the indicator of MFIs’ involvement we will use in our regressions is time invariant, therefore we are not able to build instrumental variables for instance (such as lagged values of our variable of interest) to eliminate econometric issues in our regressions. Nevertheless, through these two approaches taken separately, we contribute to some extend to the knowledge by putting in perspective different issues at stake for the microfinance industry.
Before we tackle our research questions we have an introductory chapter related to remittances flows: what are their trends, determinants and characteristics? The chapter also includes the definition of money transfer activities that we will use in the thesis, as well as an overview of MFIs’ involvement on the money transfers market.
Then, our research framework is divided into 4 sub-questions. The first one, treated in Chapter 2, is about the relationship between our variables of interest. What is the impact of the financial sector development (FSD) on the remittances’ impact on investment? This chapter aims at stressing the relationship existing between financial intermediation and remittances’ impacts on investment, which motivated our focus on MFIs (as financial intermediaries between remittances and the formal economy) in the following chapters. We focus on two transaction costs that decline with FSD. The first is the “Cost of Bank Depositing”, henceforth CDEP, which measures the difficulties of savers, particularly the less well-off, of depositing their savings in the formal banking system. The second transaction cost is the “Cost of External Finance”, henceforth CEXF, which measures the marginal cost for the banking system of borrowing in global financial markets. This cost is notably associated with the robustness of the country’s financial sector. In a stylized model of the lendable funds market, we analyze how both these variables affect the marginal effect of remittances on investment. We test model’s propositions using country-level data on remittances, investment, and proxies for both CDEP and CEXF, on a sample of 100 developing countries. We perform empirical tests using both cross-section and panel-data with country fixed effects, over the period 1975-2004. The results demonstrate, theoretically and empirically, that remittances and ease of access to the banking sector act as complements to stimulate domestic investment, while remittances and external borrowing are substitutes. We find that remittances flows stimulate local investment, as a part of remittances indeed become banks’ deposits, which increases the availability of lendable funds, reduces the interest rate and stimulates investment. In terms of policy implication, results suggest that enhancing financial sector development is crucial as it allows remittances to better fuel domestic investment. This is even truer when the access to international funds is difficult or costly. Improving the financial inclusion of remittances receivers by developing domestic banks’ ability to collect their savings is then a straightforward recommendation to policymakers who want to improve remittances impact on investment.
The second question, developed in Chapter 3 is related to the demand perspective of the relationship between microfinance and remittances. We want to assess whether there is a need from remittances receivers for financial products that may be linked to remittances. We aboard this question by assessing whether the supply of MTA leads to higher volume of deposits mobilized by MFIs, meaning that MFIs actually contribute or succeed in turning remittances into deposits. Using an original database of 114 MFIs –operating in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), South Asia (SA), East Asia and the Pacific (EAP), and Africa–, we perform empirical tests to study whether MFIs are able to capture migrants’ savings thanks to their money transfer activity. We test the impact of money transfer activity on deposits, using the natural logarithm of deposits as explained variable. Our main result suggests that money transfer activity has a significant positive impact on savings collection. MFIs involved in the remittances market thus attract more savings than MFIs that are not involved in it, probably coming from migrants and remittances receivers who are in need of adapted financial services. This confirms the opportunity MFIs may represent as a tool or a channel to improve remittances impact on investment. In that sense, MFIs should then be encouraged to operate on the remittances market, and to design financial products dedicated to migrants and remittances receivers.
The third question, developed in Chapter 4, is related to the supply approach of the relationship between remittances and microfinance. More precisely, we try to identify factors that seem to explain the availability of such service in the scope of services provided by MFIs. In this chapter, we focus first on potential sources of efficiency gains linked to the money transfer activity as a rationale for diversification (i.e. the expansion of the offer). And second, using an original database of 435 MFIs –operating in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), South Asia (SA), East Asia and the Pacific (EAP), and Africa–, we perform empirical tests using cross-section over the year 2006, to identify which environmental and institutional parameters have an impact on the willingness of a MFI to provide a money transfer service. We test the impact of various variables that are related to one of the rationale for MFIs to enter the money transfer market, namely economies of scale and scope as a source of efficiency gains, on the probability to have a money transfer service provided by a given MFI. Our main result suggests that the size, as well as the fact that an MFI collects savings have a positive and significant impact on this probability, while the level of financial development negatively impact it. This confirms among other things that the ability to realize economies of scale through a potential increase of collected deposits may be a determinant of managers’ choice to diversify. Policies that contribute to reduce entry barriers in low financially developed countries should then, among other things, be encouraged to have MFIs fully playing their role of intermediaries between remittances and the (formal) economy.
The chapter 5 questions about the institutional consequences for MFIs to collect migrants’ savings. The aim of this chapter is to give an insight on the opportunity migrants’ money (including remittances) could represent for the microfinance industry as a source of stable medium- and long-term funds. It is therefore related to the supply approach and the motivation for MFIs to enter the remittances market by analyzing the impact of migrants’ deposits (which include remittances) on another potential source of efficiency gains, namely the internal capital market. Through a case study approach, this chapter is devoted to the analysis of funding risk in microfinance, comparing migrants’ and locals’ time deposits. Migrants’ time deposits are expected to be of longer term and more stable (in terms of early withdrawals) than locals’ deposits. This assumption had never been tested yet. Based on an original database of 7,828 deposit contracts issued between 2002 and 2008 by 12 village banks belonging to a major Malian rural microfinance network (PASECA-Kayes), we used the Cox proportional hazard model to identify the variables that have an impact on the probability to have early withdrawals, and the technique of re-sampling to calculate withdrawal rates and deposits at risk. Results from the Cox methodology suggest that the migration status is not a direct determinant for the probability to have an early withdrawal. However, this probability increases with the amount deposited and the term of the contract which are both higher for migrants compared to non-migrants. The re-sampling method results suggest that withdrawal rates are not the same for the two categories of depositors observed. We find higher withdrawal rate distributions for migrants than for locals. The value at risk is also higher on migrants’ deposits than on locals’ deposits. However, as migrants tend to deposit for longer term than locals, through the calculation of durations we have measured to which extend migrants’ deposits still have a positive impact on MFIs’ liabilities. It appears that migrants’ money has a marginal but positive impact on time deposits durations, either when considering early withdrawals, which impacts are very limited, except in 2007 (the worst year in terms of amount withdrawn early). As our results show that MFIs that receive migrants’ deposits are not necessarily better-off than without migrants’ money in terms of funding risk - and durations - this paper has stressed the importance of assessing more carefully the role of migrants for the microfinance industry.