The Effects of Financial Inclusion on Development Outcomes: New Insights from ASEAN and East Asian Countries
This study empirically examines the effects of financial inclusion on economic development, – economic growth, education, health, and income inequality – in 20 Asian countries in the period 2004-2015. The financial inclusion index at an aggregate level is constructed using a hybrid methodology (reported in the previous paper) and we empirically examine its relationship with particular development outcomes. We then disaggregate the index into the three dimensions of financial inclusions – access, usage, and quality – and further into the top two indicators from each dimension based on principal component analysis scores (reported in the previous paper), to examine whether specific dimensions or indicators are more strongly associated with particular development outcomes than with others. Our results show that aggregate financial inclusion has a strong positive effect on all development outcomes and this effect improves for countries with lower political risk. At the dimension level, while usage is the only dimension impacting on economic growth, and access is the only dimension impacting on health outcomes, both usage and access influence education and income inequality. Moreover, the top ranked indicators in each dimension exert a far greater positive influence on development outcomes than the second highest ranked indicators. Our findings show that adopting a single blanket policy may not be appropriate to realise the full potential of financial inclusion in a less developed country. Policy prescriptions should therefore target specific dimension and indicators of financial inclusion to maximise the positive effect on development outcomes.