Call for Research Proposal- Household Finance Research Initiative

The Household Finance Research Initiative at Dvara Research is announcing a call for research proposals on key themes and issues pertaining to Household Finance in India in collaboration with Northern Arc Capital, Robert Bosch Centre for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence (RBCDSAI) at IIT-Madras and Omidyar Network. The initiative invites research institutions/think-tanks, institutional and independent academicians, and scholars to submit research proposals that thematically cut across various dimensions of financial inclusion and household finance research. The initiative aims to generate high-quality evidence-based research, fund projects under the themes of household finance and build a robust body of work that will educate, encourage and facilitate policymakers and practitioners to address the gaps in existing financial products and services targeted towards low-income households.

The Need for Research in Household Finance

Household finance is an emerging academic discipline at the intersection of economics, finance, development and behavioural economics which studies the nature and spectrum of financial strategies employed by households and their interactions with various informal and formal actors to satisfy their financial needs. While traditional research in understanding financial decision-making has focused on the ‘individual’ as the unit of inquiry (as in consumer finance research), there is a paucity of research when it comes to understanding household financial behaviour. Households present certain unique characteristics and when presented with low-access environments, as is the case in India, their financial decisions and strategies continue to be poorly understood and demand rigorous inquiry.

Indian financial inclusion policy has primarily focused on supply-side initiatives, employing either mandates, channel regulations or standardized product design to deliver incremental supply. The design of this approach to financial inclusion primarily targets the level of supply but does little to alter the characteristics, quality and suitability of supplied services. However, an emerging body of evidence rejects these assumptions, and calls for a more consumer-aware and consumer-centric system of policymaking. First, not only do households experience heterogeneous financial needs and institutional interactions, their heterogeneity is dynamic over time and unique to their own experiences. Second, there is evidence to show that particularly with respect to banking, economically or informationally vulnerable families report the unsuccessful purchase and negative experiences more frequently. Even when successful at purchase, vulnerable households are more likely to be aggressively mis-sold or experience distressing outcomes from use.

The Committee on Household Finance, set up by RBI highlights the need for formalisation of financial services for low-income households, towards optimal portfolio allocation and brings the focus on understanding the unique financial needs of Indian households.

The key objective of the research conducted under this initiative is to devote intellectual capital to solving critical challenges in the design and delivery of financial services that increase financial access, facilitates socio-economic mobility and ultimately improves the well-being of households in India. The research emerging out of this initiative will be disseminated at the Household Finance Conference hosted by Dvara Research, scheduled for April 2021.

Timeline

Activity or DeliverablesTimeline (Tentative)
Announcement of call for proposals4th May 2020
Deadline for proposal submission31st May 2020
Announcement of shortlisted proposals20th June 2020
Signing the grant agreement and Commencement of the study30th June 2020
Interim review15th Oct 2020
Final review15th Feb 2021
Submission of the working paper15th March 2021
Household Finance Conference29th & 30th April 2021

Researchers may apply for the research grant under either of the research themes, listed below. These themes are carefully curated to address the current challenges that exist in the field of household finance. We also present a list of research questions that can be explored under each of these themes. 

 

Please note that this is only an indicative list of issues and researchers can develop their own research questions pertinent to these themes.

Submissions may be made to either of the research tracks (detailed below) based on the theme of household finance laid out in the previous section. The themes are broadly defined, and the framing of specific questions will remain contingent on the scope of datasets and the questions that are most relevant from a practitioner’s perspective.

Selected research papers under both track 1 and track 2 will be published in the Journal of Emerging Market Finance (published by Sage Publishers, and IFMR/KREA Graduate School of Business). In addition to the publication of research in an indexed- journal, the researchers will be required to write a blog series and fact sheet for the Dvara Research website summarizing the key findings from their research.

Key Dates

Winners Announced

We are delighted to announce that the response to the call for proposals has been overwhelming as we received over 75 proposals across disciplines of social sciences. After multiple rounds of screening, we have selected a total of 10 research teams (5 proposals under track 1, and 5 proposals under track 2), as the recipients of the grant



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