Ole Dahl Rasmussen
I am a researcher as well as a practitioner, working at the same time toward a PhD degree at University of Southern Denmark and as microfinance and evaluation adviser to DanChurchAid, a Danish non-missionary NGO with activities in 20 countries.

My research interests include microfinance, microsavings, development aid, evaluation and impact assessment.

In September 2012 I recorded a talk on global poverty for the Danish public television. It's in Danish and the title is "Poverty and rye bread" or Fattigdom og rugbrød.


Refereed publications

Walking the talk: the need for a trial registry for development interventions 2011 in Journal of Development Effectiveness (with Nikolaj Malchow-Møller and Thomas Barnebeck Andersen). pp 502-519. Working paper version.

Recent advances in the use of randomised control trials to evaluate the effect of development interventions promise to enhance our knowledge of what works and why. A core argument supporting randomised studies is the claim that they have high internal validity. We argue that this claim is weak as long as a trial registry of development interventions is not in place. Without a trial registry, the possibilities for data mining, created by analyses of multiple outcomes and subgroups, undermine the internal validity. Drawing on experience from evidence-based medicine and recent examples from microfinance, we argue that a trial registry would also enhance external validity and foster innovative research.

The paper has been cited in:

Small groups, large profits: Calculating interest rates in community-managed microfinance in Enterprise Development and Microfinance, vol 23, iss. 4, 2012

It is common to see the interest rate on savings in community-managed microfinance reported as "20-30% annually". Using panel data from 204 groups in Malawi, I show that the right figure is likely to be at least twice this figure. This is due to non-standard interest rate calculation and unrealistic assumptions about the savings profile in the groups. In the 204 groups, the annual interest rate on savings is 63% using standard financial calculations. This finding has several consequences. In general, it proves that community-managed microfinance is indeed a very profitable savings alternative in rural areas, in particular for the participants who only saves and who are normally believed to be among the poorest.  Governments and donors should require that interest rates are reported correctly to ensure transparency and comparability as community-managed microfinance grows. Also, current efforts to make monitoring and reporting online should take these calculations into account and use proper reporting of interest rates. Finally, multiplying the interest rate on savings by two still leaves a large unexplained difference between the interest rate on savings and the interest rate on loans. These funds might disappear due to low repayment rates, relaxed repayment schedules or theft, even though none of these are present in current reporting. This is a topic for future research.

Working papers

The impact of community-managed microfinance in rural Malawi. Evidence from a cluster randomized control trial
with Christopher Ksoll, Helene Bie Lilleør, Jonas Helth Lønborg,

Non-refereed publications
Edited book: 10x10, Cambrigde Scholar's Publishing, UK (with Ole Wæver and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen).

To create an alternative listing of great books, we asked ten great social scientists to describe the ten works that inspired them the most using one page per work. Ten very interesting people said yes, among them the two Nobel Laurates James Buchanan and Elinor Ostrom. Others include Kenneth Waltz, B. Guy Peters, Chantal Mouffe, Joseph H.H. Weiler, Kalevi Holsti, Kenneth Waltz and Thomas Hylland Eriksen among others.

Articles in newspapers
Stor ståhej om mikroskopiske lån i bistandsarbejdet, Kristeligt Dagblad (kronik), February 1, 2011 (with Nikolaj Malchow-Møller og Thomas Barnebeck Andersen)

Fra store ord til små lån, Berlingske Tidende (kronik), December 12, 2006 (with Mogens Lykketoft and Kasper Graa Wulff).

Gæld gør godt i Benin; Der er business i bistand; Danske banker låner ikke til fattige i DJØF-Bladet, nr 20, November 21, 2006 (with Thomas Skovgaard Pedersen).

Fascinerende finanser. Udvikling (6) 2009, page 21. Review of Portfolios of the Poor.

All journalistic publications are not listed here.