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Working Paper

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This paper examines the impact of participation in women’s savings and credit groups organized by Save the Children USA on women’s empowerment, contraceptive use, and fertility in a rural area of Bangladesh. The data are drawn from a panel survey conducted in 1993, shortly before the groups were formed, and in 1995 after interventions began. This quasi-experimental design enables us to identify the characteristics of women who chose to join savings groups. The findings show that those who joined tend to more educated and more socially independent than are women who did not. Thus, to control for selection bias, preintervention measures of empowerment are taken into consideration in the analyses of the impact of savings groups on 1995 levels of empowerment and fertility behavior. The analysis shows positive impacts of the credit program on aspirations with regard to children’s education, age at marriage, and use of modern contraceptives.