Glasgow researchers investigate links between microcredit loans and health

11 February 2015

Glasgow researchers investigate links between microcredit loans and health

Professor Muhammad Yunus was a pioneer of microcredit

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers are investigating the viability of microcredit loans as a means of improving the finances and health of low-income individuals in the UK, in the first major study supported with evidence of the views of this population group.

Funded with a £210,000 grant from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO), part of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, the ‘Fair credit, health and wellbeing’ project aims to explore the perceived association between improved income, community connectedness and potential resulting health effects.

Microcredit is a form of small loan for impoverished borrowers who typically lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history. It has been used in developing countries to support entrepreneurship and alleviate poverty, and in many cases to empower women. Modern microcredit is generally considered to have originated with the Grameen Bank founded in Bangladesh.

GCU work in this area focuses on researching the potential for microcredit to act as a health creator and generator of wellbeing. This brings a new ‘determinants of health’ perspective to the microcredit research field.

The study will compare the views and perceptions of low-income Glaswegians.  The city was chosen for its relatively high deprivation rates, extreme health inequalities, and the availability of financial services for low-income groups.

The study will analyse participants’ financial management planning, extract participants’ subjective views on the relationship between income and health, and identify shared perspectives using the Q methodology research technique.

Led by Professor Cam Donaldson, Chair of the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health, the study will bring together experts from Newcastle University, Sheffield University, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Glasgow City Council and the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

In 2010, GCU established the Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health in the name of Professor Muhammad Yunus to undertake pioneering research into the relationship between social business and health improvement.

The Yunus Centre team, Professor Donaldson, Professor Rachel Baker and Dr Olga Biosca, has significant expertise in researching microcredit including through a systematic review of the literature examining the impact of microcredit on health and wellbeing and a mapping of the current provision of micro-lending for enterprise in Scotland.

Professor Donaldson said: “With health inequalities widening and becoming more entrenched in parts of our society, it is important to think of and evaluate new and more holistic ways of addressing this major societal challenge. Money has a role in this. It is very rare to explore people’s relationships with money and even less so how fair credit might actually impact on their shorter and longer-term wellbeing. GCU’s Yunus Centre is proud to be at the forefront of this area of research.” 


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