2018-2019 Global Development Studies Senior Thesis Projects

Meadow Poplawsky '19

Project Title: Financial Inclusion: Alleviating Poverty in a Neoliberal World

Summary: Scholars disagree over the effectiveness of financial inclusion as a strategy in poverty alleviation and development. Some argue that financial inclusion allows the poor to tap into their talents and entrepreneur to slowly begin to cover their income gaps and raise themselves out of poverty. Another group of scholars argues that there is no evidence that methods of financial inclusion have aided in poverty alleviation, and that in some cases they have in fact increased inequality and harmed their participants. A final group of scholars argues that financial inclusion inherently cannot improve the situations of the poor as it is the product of the neoliberal system that creates poverty, and merely continues the cycles of debt traps and increasing income inequality inherent in this system. This thesis demonstrates that financial inclusion, as it is rooted deeply in the ne-liberal system that creates inequality and poverty in developing countries, cannot succeed in alleviating poverty simply through providing financial services to the poor. To see success through financial inclusion, there must be government regulation and involvement, and the addition of social welfare programs to ensure that crises in the lives of the poor will not send them further into debt traps through financial inclusion programs.