The Common Denominator: Numbers Using Cross-country and Micro Data on Access

Methods of measuring access, an exploration
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This presentation discusses different methods of measuring access and the potential of microfinance to deal with the problem of access.

The presentation provides information about:

  • Importance of financial deepening and development to enable access for the poor;
  • Debate that access might not necessarily be a problem;
  • Need to have data for two different questions:
    • What is observed access and participation?
    • What is the relationship between access/participation and certain desirable outcomes?
  • Traditional, as well as new indicators of access;
  • Symptoms of access asymmetries and segmentations;
  • Indicators of physical outreach;
  • Use of geographic indicators, such as branch density across countries;
  • Use of firm-level data;
  • Challenges in evaluating the impact of microfinance and their solutions;
  • Collection and use of new cross-country data on access and participation.

The presentation concludes that:

  • Developing access indicators will help to:
    • Benchmark countries;
    • Disentangle the channels of finance-poverty relationship;
    • Develop policies to expand welfare-improving access.
  • New indicators will include:
    • Cross-country indicators that capture the different dimensions of access and exclusion;
    • Supplier data from banks and microfinance institutions.
  • It is important to distinguish between benchmarking and assessing relationships between access and desirable outcomes.

The presentation ends by recommending a holistic approach to the measurement of access.