Chinese ROSCAs
Mirror
Chinese Culture

The simplest form of ROSCAs in Southern China is the village kulp. These ROSCAs are founded by individuals who are in need of a lump sum of money. The individuals will go to family members to form groups, which is very reflective of the Chinese familial culture. In these groups, only the founder pays interest and his/her debt can be paid off with either money or with giving feasts.

In Beijing, the ROSCA is an auction variety that stresses it economic functions over the social ones (although there still are social functions). The participants claim that these ROSCAs encourage thrift and "[provide] investable funds of low costs". One of the most striking features of these ROSCAs is that they require a written contract for the founder of the group. Similarly, each member must sign a contract and then have two guarantors sign as well. These ROSCAs are very businesslike and not very influenced by traditional ways.

In Shanghai, the ROSCAs are also started by those in need of cash, but these groups can be together for long periods of time, up to 7 years. The contribution system is much more complex. In these ROSCAs, contributions are calculated through an incredibly detailed formula that is often so complex that the villagers usually need to call in the head of the village in order to instruct them on the proper payments.


Source: Geertz, Clifford. 1962. "The Rotating Credit Association: A 'Middle Rung' in Development." Economic Development and Cultural Change, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 249-54.

Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org
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