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Does economic policy uncertainty reduce financial inclusion?

Ozili, Peterson K (2022): Does economic policy uncertainty reduce financial inclusion? Forthcoming in:

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Abstract

This paper examines whether economic policy uncertainty (EPU) reduces the level of financial inclusion. I predict that high EPU should have a negative effect on the level of financial inclusion. I argue that high EPU will discourage financial institutions from providing basic financial services to low end customers and unbanked adults, and this will lead to a decrease in the level of financial inclusion. Using a sample of 22 countries, I find that EPU does not have a significant impact on financial inclusion. None of the nine indicators of financial inclusion have a significant direct relationship with EPU. Also, I find some evidence that the combined effect of high EPU and high nonperforming loans reduces financial inclusion, particularly through bank branch contraction and a reduction in the use of electronic payments. Meanwhile, the use of formal accounts and credit cards increases in times of high credit supply and high EPU.

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