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Gallup 072312 Banking

Monday, July 23, 2012

Banking Trails Informal Savings and Credit in Latin America

By Leora Klapper and Krista Hoff, Gallup

Residents of Latin America and the Caribbean, on average, are less likely than respondents worldwide and in developing countries to have formal bank accounts and formal savings, a recent Gallup/World Bank study finds. Fewer than two in five residents in Latin America and the Caribbean (39%) report having an account at a formal financial institution, and one in ten report having saved at a formal financial institution in the past year. Fewer than one in 10 (8%) report having taken a loan from a formal financial institution in that same period -- on par with the global average.

These results come from a global study of financial inclusion, which measures how adults in 148 economies save, borrow, make payments, and manage risk. The findings reflect more than 150,000 interviews with adults, aged 15 and older, conducted in 2011. Gallup collected the data for the World Bank Global Financial Inclusion (Global Findex) database, which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Account penetration -- defined as having an account at a bank, credit union, cooperative, post office, or microfinance institution -- varies by country in Latin America and the Caribbean and is significantly higher among men than women, even after taking income, age, and education into consideration. At least half of adults in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Jamaica indicate they have a formal account, compared with less than one-fifth of Nicaraguans and Salvadorans. Residents in several countries with higher levels of financial inclusion -- such as Costa Rica and Venezuela -- report the largest gender gaps among those having formal accounts.

The data show a persistent gender gap in financial inclusion across Latin America, even after controlling for income. The gender gap is most pronounced among the middle- and high-income adults within each country.


Link to "Banking Use Trails in Latin America," Jul. 18, 2012, for the complete Gallup article and statistics.  Reprinted with permission.

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