Debt in Rural South India: Fragmentation, Social Regulation and Discrimination

Guerin, I. and Espallier, B.D. and Venkatasubramanian, G. (2012) Debt in Rural South India: Fragmentation, Social Regulation and Discrimination. The Journal of Development Studies. pp. 1-17.

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This micro-level study combines multivariate and qualitative analyses to highlight the fragmented nature of debt in southern Indian rural households. It finds that debt is socially regulated in the sense that social interactions shape the cost, use and access to debt. Caste, social class and location affect how individuals borrow varying amounts from distinct money providers, for varied purposes and at differing costs. Debt thus is not purely an economic but first and foremost a social transaction which inscribes debtors and creditors into local systems of hierarchies. Furthermore, we find that debt is an illustration and catalyst of broader socio-economic and political trends, namely a lack of social protection, persistent under-employment and rising consumerism. In terms of policy implications, the study highlights the ambiguities and illusions inherent to ‘financial inclusion' policies aiming to eradicate informal debt.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Qualitative interviews and statistical analysis were carried out under the RUME project (http:// funded by the French National Agency for Research (ANR). We thank participants from the Second European Research Conference in Microfinance (Groningen, 2011) and from the International Conference on Microfinance: theory meets practice (Agder, 2011) for their comments on earlier versions of this article. We also thank colleagues from RUME and CERMi for their help and constructive feedback on our work.
Author Affiliation: UMR 201 Development and Societies (University Paris I Sorbonne – Institute of Research for Development), French Institute of Pondicherry, India
Subjects: Social Sciences
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr Siva Shankar
Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2013 05:06
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2013 05:06
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