Publications
  • Increasing Trust in the Bank to Enhance Savings: Experimental Evidence from India, with Rahul Mehrotra and Vincent Somville, accepted at Economic Development and Cultural Change.

  • Baland, J.-M., R. Somanathan and L. Vandewalle (2019), Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Microfinance in India, Economic Development and Cultural Change.
    Media coverage: Ideas for India, VOX

  • Somville, V. and L. Vandewalle (2018), Saving by Default: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Rural India, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 10(3): 39-66.
    Media coverage: Ideas for India, VOX

  • Vandewalle, L. (2017), The Role of Accountants in Indian Self-Help Groups: A Trade-off between Financial and Non-Financial Benefits, World Development, 93: 177-192.

  • Casini, P., L. Vandewalle and Z. Wahhaj (2017), Public Good Provision in Indian Rural Areas: The Returns to Collective Action by Microfinance Groups. World Bank Economic Review, 31(1): 97-128.
    Media coverage: NewsReach (May-June 2012)

  • Baland, J.-M., R. Somanathan and L. Vandewalle  (2008), Microfinance Lifespans: A Study of Attrition and Exclusion in Self-Help Groups in India.  India Policy Forum, vol. 4: 159-210.



Working papers
  • Identities and Public Policies: Unintended Effects of Political Reservations for Women in India, with Guilhem Cassan (Submitted).
    Identity is an important determinant of economic behavior. While the existing literature focuses on one identity dimension at a time, we show that the mulitplicity of identity dimensions matters for economic behavior and that neglecting it may lead policymakers to overlook important, unexpected effects of economic policies. We exploit the randomized nature of polical reservations for women in India to show that a policy designed along one identity dimension (gender) alters the distribution of the benefits of this policy along another one (caste). We propose important differences in women's mobility outside the house across caste groups as a mechanism.
    Media coverage:
    VOX, Ideas for India


Work in progress

  • Access to Banking, Savings and Consumption Smoothing in Rural India, with Vincent Somville.
    Access to formal banking is spreading across the world and may transform how people manage their finances. We report from a field experiment that randomly provides access to a bank account to a representative sample of villagers in rural India. The treated respondents save actively into the account, and their individual savings increase. There is no significant impact on mean household savings, and on average expenditures, income, loans and transfers. Using weekly data from financial diaries, we however show that the treatment has an important impact on consumption (and nutrition) smoothing, which is ddriven by pro-cyclical saving on the new account. The latter results provide a new insight on the importance of banking in low and midde-income countries.
  • The Political Competition over Life and Death, with Anders Kjelsrud and Kalle Moene.


Field Projects

  • Child Care for Childhood and Business Development, with Kjetil Bjorvatn, Selim Gulesci, and Vincent Somville (2018-2021).
    • Experimental studies have demonstrated that microenterprises with a female owner have lower returns to capital and business training compared to enterprises with a male business-owner. This project studies one potential explanation behind this effect: Lack of access to childcare services. The experiment will be implemented in rural Uganda.
    • Funded by the Research Council of Norway and Private Enterprise Development in Low-Income Countries (PEDL)

  • Impact of e-KYC on Access to Finance: Evidence from Bangladesh, with Xavier Giné and Jessica Goldberg (2018-2020).
    • We will evaluate the reduction in transaction costs and its impact on deepening financial inclusion in Bangladesh, where the network of banking agents is expanding rapidly.
    • Funded by DIME and the Swiss National Science Foundation

  • Savings Behaviour and the Introduction of Mobile Banking in India, with Vincent Somville (2013-2016).
    • In India, a significant proportion of the households, especially in rural areas, are outside the coverage of the formal banking system. But recent advances in mobile technology provide an opportunity to easily expand the access to formal financial services. People can use mobile phones to save, transfer money to other users and receive payments from the government. Together with our partner, Basix Sub-K, we set-up various randomized controled trials that allow us to address gaps in research on the financial lives of the poor.
    • Funded by the Research Council of Norway

  • Self-Help Groups: Group Action Study, with Paolo Casini (09/2010 - 10/2010).
    • The aim of this study is to measure the influence of collective actions undertaken by SHGs on the provision of public goods in their villages. Therefore, we did a detailed survey of all the SHGs that the NGO PRADAN created in Odisha, India, and of the villages in which the SHGs meet.
    • Funded by the CRED

  • Self-Help Groups: Performance Study, with Jean-Marie Baland and Rohini Somanathan (04/2006 - 04/2008).
    • Self-Help Groups are the dominant institutional form of microfinance in India. We conducted a large field survey on SHGs created by the NGO PRADAN to understand the reasons behind the rapid development of some groups, and the failures or stagnation of others.
    • Funded by FUCID