Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

What You Didn't Know About Financial Services and The People Who Use Them

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January 08, 2013

What percentage of sub-Saharan women under age 30 with a formal bank account use a community-based group to save? The answer is 26 percent, but until recently you would have had difficulty finding that statistic. Not anymore. Now, the World Bank’s Development Research Group has collected and analyzed data about how adults in 148 countries around the world save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk in their day-to-day lives in a resource called Global Findex. We recently released “micro-data” for more than 150,000 individuals that adds specificity to the country-level data we released in April 2012.   

For example, not only will you find data related to how many women in Angola, Algeria, and Australia use formal and informal financial services, but what the barriers are if they aren’t. The data show a persistent gender gap of close to 10 percentage points in the use of accounts in developing countries, even among the richest 20 percent of earners. And unbanked women in the developing world are far more likely than men to report not having an account because “someone else in the family already has one.”

Why is access to this information important?

The Global Findex is a gold mine for those who work in field of development—the data is freely available, easy to access, and tailored to all types of users. From online tools to explore the data and make customized graphs and maps, to the complete micro dataset, the database is a great tool for practitioners, policy makers, development professionals, journalists and researchers alike.  The Global Findex data can identify and benchmark gaps in financial inclusion among the poor, women, and youth; inform the diagnostic and design of evidence-based policies; and with forthcoming updates in 2014 and 2017, become a powerful tool for measuring the impact of financial inclusion reforms and initiatives over time.

The data can also be merged with other World Bank datasets such as the Global Payment Systems Survey (GPSS) to facilitate a deeper understanding of how different financial behaviors and infrastructures fit together. For example, our new paper uses the Global Findex microdata and finds that greater ownership and use of accounts (e.g. for savings) is associated with a better enabling environment for accessing financial services, such as lower banking costs. Furthermore, unbanked adults are less likely to report cost or distance as a barrier to account ownership in countries with lower costs of opening and maintaining an account.

We encourage you to view and download the data yourself through the Global Findex homepage or directly from the microdata catalogue.
 
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