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Independent research for global prosperity

women check their balances on their phones in Bangladesh
Research Seminar Series (RSS)

Poverty and Migration in the Digital Age: Experimental Evidence on Mobile Banking in Bangladesh

Thursday, February 7, 2019 - 11:30am to 1:00pm


Jean Nahrae Lee, Millennium Challenge Corporation


Leora Klapper, World Bank


Michael Clemens, Center for Global Development

Rapid urbanization is reshaping developing countries and intensifying spatial inequalities. In their paper, Jean Lee and coauthors experimentally introduced mobile banking to rural and urban populations in Bangladesh to investigate inequality-reducing transfers.

The sample includes very poor rural households whose family members had migrated to the city and previously used inefficient traditional transfer mechanisms. One year later, urban-to-rural remittances increased by 30% relative to a control group. For active mobile money users, rural consumption increased by 7.5% and extreme poverty fell. Rural households borrowed less, saved more, and consumed more in the lean season. However, urban migrants bore costs, reporting substantially worse physical and emotional health.

Related Experts

Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow

Please bring your lunch; beverages will be provided.

Photo by Ismail Ferdous/UNSGSA