Much of the research being done to assess the effects of microfinance initiatives and financial inclusion efforts focus on the impact of these programs on the most marginalised segments of a population: women, those living in rural poverty, the disabled, and other at-risk segments of society. Studies that came out of the global financial crisis, and a variety of new randomised controlled studies, have been trying to identify both cause and effect relationships and extraneous variables that impact the efforts at financial inclusion for these at-risk people. The World Bank and other global and national economic development experts have suggested that financial inclusion for the marginalised poor is a necessary step toward economic development, and that financial inclusion efforts can drive the global economy. How does financial inclusion impact economic development on a broader scale, outside of the family and community?
In countries that have a developed or existing institutional financial infrastructure, financial inclusion is believed to drive economic development through a wider distribution of capital and risk. Innovative companies can use existing financial infrastructure to build new technologies and develop new services. With an existing financial infrastructure, governments can bundle social service programs through financial institutions and banks, reducing costs and ensuring the safety net for the most vulnerable.
In countries and regions with significant social and economic instability, however, such as political instability, war, or tribal conflict; high rates of inflation, nonexistent financial regulations, and corruption; efforts at financial inclusion may not be effective in driving economic development. While microfinance efforts can support financial inclusion and economic development at the individual, family, and community level, even in countries or regions experiencing conflict or instability, a larger degree of economic benefit appears to need a stable political environment and some degree of financial infrastructure.
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