Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Anne Villamil


This dissertation contributes to studies in macroeconomics, microfinance, entrepreneurship, financial technology innovation (FinTech), and economic development. In particular, I study unbanked problems and evaluate microfinance programs.

Chapter 1 studies quantitatively how a microfinance program in the U.S. affects occupational choice, firm size, credit access, wages, output, inequality and welfare. The general equilibrium model has heterogeneous agents, a bank with a minimum loan size requirement and a microfinance institution (MFI) with a loan interest rate that exceeds the bank's. Four microfinance program policies are evaluated: alternative minimum loan size requirements, changes in the loan cost wedge (due to innovation or regulation), changes to the level of the government subsidy, and alternative MFI sustainability requirements. We find that MFIs can have significant welfare effects for some individuals.

In Chapter 2, I introduce a microsavings program for low-wealth individuals in a general equilibrium model with heterogeneous agents. The model incorporates that (i) traditional banks require a minimum savings deposit size, causing some individuals to become “unbanked,'' and (ii) banks and non-profits partner to offer microsavings programs to the unbanked. The paper finds that microsavings programs increase the percentage of entrepreneurs by providing collateral that the previously unbanked can use to start firms, and wages increase, which benefits workers. Second, government subsidies for microsavings programs expand the size and number of firms, but output and workers may decline when funding the program requires higher income taxes. Third, bank sector deregulation (i.e., lower transaction costs in the financial sector) leads to higher output per capita, wages, and firm numbers, and possibly lower income inequality among entrepreneurs. Finally, technological innovations that decrease deposit transaction costs, such as mobile banking, reduce funding pressure on microsavings programs, but have little effect on the percentage of entrepreneurs, firm size, entrepreneur returns or wages.


Banking, Development, FinTech, Microfinance, Occupational Choice, Unbanked


xiv, 141 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 130-141).


Copyright © 2017 Fan Liu

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Economics Commons