Study: Mobile Money Lifts Kenyan Households Out of Poverty
Since 2008, MIT economist Tavneet Suri has studied the financial and social impacts of Kenyan mobile-money services, which allow users to store and exchange monetary values via mobile phone. Her work has shown that these services have helped Kenyans save more money and weather financial storms, among other benefits.
Now, Suri is co-author of a new paper showing that mobile-money services have had notable long-term effects on poverty reduction in Kenya — especially among female-headed households — and have inspired a surprising occupation shift among women.
Published in Science, the study estimates that, since 2008, access to mobile-money services increased daily per capita consumption levels of 194,000 — or 2 percent — of Kenyan households, lifting them out of extreme poverty (living on less than $1.25 per day).
But there’s an interesting gender effect: Female-headed households saw far greater increases in consumption than male-headed households. Moreover, mobile-money services have helped an estimated 185,000 women move from farming to business occupations.