> Posted by Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank
Yesterday marked another big step forward in the long-term effort to fill in the financial inclusion data landscape. We in the World Bank’s Development Research Group published the complete micro dataset of the Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) dataset—the first comparable, cross-country, demand-side data that studies how adults worldwide manage their daily finances and plan for the future.
Ever wondered what percentage of Sub-Saharan women under age 30 with an account use a community-based group to save? The answer is 26 percent but the broader point is that whether you’re looking for a specific statistic or interested in doing your own analyses on the financial behaviors of individuals, you now have a powerful new tool at your disposal. We’re talking over 150,000 individual-level observations, representing adults in 148 economies, and 97 percent of the world’s adult population (the country-level data was released in April). Users can download the complete worldwide dataset, or datasets by country.
The dataset includes indicators on accounts, payments, savings, credit, and risk-management—over 40 variables in all. And, for the first time, we’re releasing data on the self-reported barriers to account ownership (for example, 41 percent of unbanked adults in Bolivia cite high cost as a reason for not owning an account). The microdata also contains covariates on the gender, age, education level, and income of the respondents to facilitate the study of financial inclusion among specific groups. We hope that the ability to study how different financial behaviors fit together and change over time expands our understanding of how adults save, borrow, and make payments.
Our new World Bank Policy Research Working Paper takes advantage of the Global Findex microdata. We find that policymakers can boost the number of people using formal financial services with policies that help reduce the cost, documentation requirement, and travel distance associated with accessing a bank account. We also find that policies targeted to promote inclusion—such as requiring banks to offer basic or low fee accounts, granting exceptions to small depositors from onerous documentation requirements, allowing correspondent banking, and using bank accounts to make government payments—are especially effective among the most excluded: rural residents and the poor.
The Global Findex data were collected by Gallup, Inc. using the Gallup World Poll Survey. The Research Group is building the database with a 10-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Image Credit: Global Findex
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