The effects of microcredit on women’s control over household spending in developing countries

J. Vaessen, A. Rivas, M. Duvendack, R. Palmer-Jones, F. Leeuw, G. Van Gils, R. Lukach, N. Holvoet, J. Bastiaensen, J. Hombrados, H. Waddington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The main objective of this campbell systematic review was to provide a systematic review of the evidence on the effects of microcredit on women's control over household spending in developing countries. More specifically, we aimed to answer two related research questions: 1) what does the impact evaluative evidence say about the causal relationship between microcredit and specific dimensions of women's empowerment (women's control over household spending); and 2) what are the mechanisms which mediate this relationship. We prioritise depth of analysis over breadth, thus the scope of this review is narrower than previous systematic reviews on microfinance (stewart et al., 2010; duvendack et al. 2011; stewart et al., 2012). We focused on specific aspects of women's empowerment which allowed us to combine statistical meta-analysis and realist (context-mechanism-outcome) synthesis. From the different searches we identified an initial number of 310 papers that were selected for full text examination. Eventually, 29 papers were retained for further analysis, corresponding to 25 unique studies. In line with three recent other reviews on microfinance (stewart et al., 2010; duvendack et al., 2011; stewart et al. 2012) we found that the microcredit evidence base is extensive, yet most studies are weak methodologically. From those studies deemed comparable and of minimum acceptable quality, we concluded that overall there is no evidence for an effect of microcredit on women's control over household spending.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-205
JournalCampbell Systematic Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2014

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