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Dean Karlan is a non-resident fellow at the Center for Global Development and a Professor of Economics at Yale University. Karlan is also President of Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), co-director of the Financial Access Initiative, a consortium created with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a research fellow of the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab, and co-Founder and President of StickK.com. In 2007, he received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and in 2008 a Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of financial decision-making, specifically employing experimental methodologies to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in microfinance and health. Internationally, he focuses on microfinance, and domestically, he focuses on voting, charitable giving, and commitment contracts. In microfinance, he has studied interest rate policy, credit evaluation and scoring policies, entrepreneurship training, group versus individual liability, savings product design, credit with education, and impact from increased access to credit.
His work on savings and health typically uses insights from psychology and behavioral economics to design and test specialized products. He has consulted for the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, FINCA International and the Guatemalan government. Karlan received a Ph.D.
in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia.
Microfinance is often viewed as a tool for empowering women. However, it is not clear that increasing a woman's share of household income also improves her status within the household. In this working paper, CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan and his co-authors examine whether access to individually held savings accounts leads to an increase in female decision-making power within the household. They find positive impacts, particularly for women who start with below-average decision-making power; there is a shift towards the purchase of female-oriented durables in the household. This paper is one in a series of six CGD working papers by Dean Karlan on various aspects of microfinance (Working Paper Nos. 106–111).
Can one teach basic entrepreneurship skills? A growing number of microfinance organizations are trying, in the hopes of improving the livelihood of their clients and to further their mission of poverty alleviation. In this working paper, CGD non-resident fellow Dean Karlan and his co-author measure the impact of adding business training to a Peruvian group lending program for female microentrepreneurs. Their findings--that training leads to increased business knowledge, practices and revenues--are contrary to the presumption (on which the microfinance movement was largely based) that credit constraints alone, not skills, are the obstacle to the entrepreneurial poor. This paper is one in a series of six CGD working papers by Dean Karlan on various aspects of microfinance (Working Paper Nos. 106–111).