Growth for all
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Financial inclusion, spearheaded by the Jan Dhan Yojana initiative, has been at the top of the Narendra Modi government’s agenda—and rightly so. But it’s worth remembering that financial inclusion is a means to an end. That end is inclusive growth, with allied benefits such as more transparent governance, reduced corruption and better human development indicators.
In a new paper, World Bank economists have looked at empirical literature on the links between the two. Their findings are both commonsensical and interesting: not all means and modes of financial inclusion are created equal.
For instance, digital payments can have a large impact when it comes to reducing poverty and inequality. On the other hand, while agricultural insurance can allow farmers to take greater risks, its exact impact on welfare isn’t known yet.
Thus, the spread of Jan Dhan accounts is a good first step—but true inclusive growth will require the right financial services and products for those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder.