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Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi

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Author Info

  • Brune, Lasse
  • Gine, Xavier
  • Goldberg, Jessica
  • Yang, Dean

Abstract

This paper reports the results of a field experiment that randomly assigned smallholder cash crop farmers formal savings accounts. In collaboration with a microfinance institution in Malawi, the authors tested two primary treatments, offering either: 1)"ordinary"accounts, or 2) both ordinary and"commitment"accounts. Commitment accounts allowed customers to restrict access to their own funds until a future date of their choosing. A control group was not offered any account but was tracked alongside the treatment groups. Only the commitment treatment had statistically significant effects on subsequent outcomes. The effects were positive and large on deposits and withdrawals immediately prior to the next planting season, agricultural input use in that planting, crop sales from the subsequent harvest, and household expenditures in the period after harvest. Across the set of key outcomes, the commitment savings treatment had larger effects than the ordinary savings treatment. Additional evidence suggests that the positive impacts of commitment derive from keeping funds from being shared with one's social network.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5748.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5748

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Related research

Keywords: Economic Theory&Research; Emerging Markets; Banks&Banking Reform; Debt Markets; Rural Poverty Reduction;

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References

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  1. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4230, The World Bank.
  2. Karlan, Dean S. & McConnell, Margaret & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Zinman, Jonathan, 2010. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," CEPR Discussion Papers 7907, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Burgess, Robin & Pande, Rohini, 2004. "Do Rural Banks Matter? Evidence from the Indian Social Banking Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 4211, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  6. Jakiela, Pamela & Ozier, Owen, 2012. "Does Africa need a rotten Kin Theorem ? experimental evidence from village economies," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6085, The World Bank.
  7. Jonathan Zinman & Dean Karlan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," Working Papers 976, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  8. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672, May.
  9. Lacker, J.M., 1989. "Optimal Contracts Under Costly State Falsification," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 956, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  10. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Female Empowerment: Impact of a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 949, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  11. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Nudging Farmers to Use Fertilizer: Theory and Experimental Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 15131, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  13. Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2008. "In pursuit of balance : randomization in practice in development field experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4752, The World Bank.
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  15. Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Saving, Fungibility, and Mental Accounts," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 193-205, Winter.
  16. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 14693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Jonathan Morduch, 1999. "The Microfinance Promise," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(4), pages 1569-1614, December.
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  21. repec:cge:warwcg:49 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Jeffrey R Kling & Jeffrey B Liebman & Lawrence F Katz, 2007. "Experimental Analysis of Neighborhood Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 83-119, 01.
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