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Financial inclusion: a new multi-dimensional index and determinants – evidence from the Union for the Mediterranean countries

Soumaya Ben Khelifa (LEFA, IHEC Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia)
Dorra Hmaied (LEFA, IHEC Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia)
Olfa Ben Ouda (LEFA, IHEC Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia)
Rym Ayadi (Bayes Business School, City University of London, London, UK)
Rania Makni (LEFA, IHEC Carthage, Tunis, Tunisia)

Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences

ISSN: 1026-4116

Article publication date: 13 December 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper proposes a new multi-dimensional financial inclusion index.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors employ two-stage principal component analysis (PCA) and aggregating indicators of availability, access and use. The paper first assesses the cross-country variations in the index and analyses trends over time for a sample of countries members of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) from 2010–2018. Second, it investigates factors that could explain the level of financial inclusion across countries.

Findings

The financial inclusion index shows a downward trend for the full sample over the period under investigation; however when splitting the sample by income group, it appears that high- and middle–income countries did not register the same trend. When examining the determinants of financial inclusion for the UfM countries, the authors find that macroeconomic, social and governance factors, as well as banking conditions, matter. Policy-makers in low- and middle-income economies should consider the importance of digital financial inclusion, which is substituting the role to traditional banking system, to close the gap and accelerate its development.

Originality/value

First, the authors provide a new measure of financial inclusion using a three-dimensional index: availability, access and use, for which weights are assigned using PCA. It uses data available for the UfM sample by combining data from different databases in order to include most indicators considered in the literature, as the majority of studies only use single measures (number of bank branches, ownership of a bank account, ratio of credits or deposits to gross domestic product [GDP], etc.). Second, by focussing on UfM countries, the study covers a region that includes both large developed and small developing economies that are connected via financial and trade ties, whilst previous studies generally give global evidence from an international sample with little or no economic ties. Third, splitting the sample by country income groups, the paper presents a more comprehensive representation of the cross-country variation in financial inclusion levels between high- and middle-income economies for this region.

Keywords

Citation

Ben Khelifa, S., Hmaied, D., Ben Ouda, O., Ayadi, R. and Makni, R. (2022), "Financial inclusion: a new multi-dimensional index and determinants – evidence from the Union for the Mediterranean countries", Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEAS-12-2021-0266

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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