Documenting the Birth of a Financial Economy
Author(s)Suri, Tavneet; Jack, William; Stoker, Thomas Martin
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The birth and explosive growth of mobile money in Kenya has provided economists with an opportunity to study the evolution and impact of a new financial system. Mobile money is an innovation that allows individuals to store, send, and receive money on their mobile phone via text message. This system has opened up basic financial services to many who were previously excluded, and has had real and measurable impacts on the ability of households to protect themselves against health risks. Using a unique survey instrument covering nearly 2,300 households over 2008–2010, we first document the lightning-fast adoption of mobile money in Kenya, which was faster than most documented modern technologies in the United States. We then present evidence on how this innovation allows households to respond better to unexpected adverse health events. We find that in the face of these events, users of mobile money are better able to tap into remittances to finance additional health care costs without having to forego necessary expenditures on education, food, and other consumption needs.
DepartmentSloan School of Management
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
National Academy of Sciences (U.S.)
Suri, T., W. Jack, and T. M. Stoker. “Documenting the Birth of a Financial Economy.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States 109.26 (2012): 10257–10262. Web.
Final published version