Microcredit and women’s control over household spending in LMICs: effects are uncertain

Added June 25, 2020

Citation: Vaessen J, Rivas A, Duvendack M, et al. The Effects of Microcredit on Women’s Control over Household Spending in Developing Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 2014; 10(1): 1-205.

What is this? The COVID-19 pandemic may have affected women and men differently. Women make up two thirds of the healthcare workforce, and are therefore at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the need to self-isolate from their own families. Women also carry a larger share of home-based caregiving responsibilities, which are accentuated by school closures. With these increasing caregiving burdens, women may have an increased need to control household spending. This might be possible through microcredit which includes providing small loans, micro-insurance, savings/deposits and payment services.

In this Campbell systematic review, the authors searched for studies of microcredit programmes aimed to increasing women’s control over household spending in low- and middle-income countries. They did not restrict their searches by date or language of publication and did the search in December 2011. They included information from 29 articles on 25 studies, most of which were judged to be of low methodological quality.

What was found: There is no consistent evidence for an effect of microcredit on women’s control over household spending.

The studies often lacked essential information such as the nature of the intervention and how it related to empowerment (e.g. how solidarity groups affect empowerment processes) or the slowly evolving gender relations in different contexts (e.g. the evolution of societal norms and the relationship with power relations in the household).


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