McKillop D.G. and Quinn B., (2009) “Cost Performance of Irish Credit Unions” Journal of Cooperative Studies, VOL 42, 1 , P22-36(14).
There are 424 credit unions in Ireland with assets under their control of €14.3bn and a membership of 2.5m which equates to about 66% of the economically active population, the highest penetration level of any country. That said, the Irish movement sits at a critical development stage, well behind mature markets such as Canada and the US in terms of product provision, technological sophistication, fragmentation of trade bodies and regulatory environment. This study analyses relative cost efficiency or performance of Irish credit unions using the popular frontier approach which measures an entity’s efficiency relative to a frontier of best practice. Parametric techniques are utilised, with variation in inefficiency being attributed to credit union-specific factors. The stochastic cost frontier parameters and the credit-union specific parameters are simultaneously estimated to produce valid statistical inferences. The study finds that the majority of Irish credit unions are not operating at optimal levels. It further highlights the factors which drive efficiency variation across credit unions and they include technological sophistication, ‘sponsor donated’ resources, interest rate differentials and the levels of bad debt written off.