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Abstract

This paper examines whether bank account ownership mitigates the tendency of health shocks to drive low-income households into debt, or enables them sustain consumption. Between 2006 and 2010 in India, policies targeted to expand the reach of former financial services to unbanked individuals caussed bank account ownership to increase from 35.5% in 2001 to 58.7% in 2011. Analysis of nationally-representative longitudinal household data from india suggests that while bank accounts play a limited role in helping shock-ridden households sustain consumption, they are associated with a shift in food expenditure from staple foods to non-staple foods and an increase in household expenditure on non-food essential goods and services and other non-essential goods and services.

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