Increasing Financial Inclusion in the Muslim World: Evidence from an Islamic Finance Marketing Experiment

Dean Karlan, Adam Osman, Nour Shammout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Low utilization of household credit in developing countries may be partially due to religious considerations. In a randomized marketing experiment in Jordan, this paper estimates the effect of sharia-compliant loan features on demand for credit. To comply with Islamic law, the sharia-compliant product uses a bank fee rather than an interest payment structure, while keeping the rest of the product features very similar. Sharia-compliance increased the application rate for loans from 18 percent to 22 percent, an increase in demand that is equivalent to a 10 percent decrease in interest rates. This study also randomly varied the price of the sharia-compliant loan and finds that less religious individuals are twice as elastic with respect to price as the more religious. By comparing reasons for refusal across treatment groups, this paper estimates that survey measures that try to assess the importance of religious objections to conventional credit overestimate the importance of this type of objection by a third.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-397
JournalWorld Bank Economic Review
Volume35
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • Islamic finance
  • marketing
  • credit elasticity
  • religion
  • microcredit

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