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Financial Education and Savings Outcomes in Individual Development Accounts


Author Info

  • Margaret Clancy

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Michal Grinstein-Weiss

    (Washington University in St. Louis)

  • Mark Schreiner

    (Washington University in St. Louis)


Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are subsidized savings accounts. Unlike other subsidized savings accounts such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) or 401(k) plans, IDAs are targeted to the poor, provide subsidies through matches rather than through tax breaks, and require participants to attend financial education. Participants accrue matches as they save for purposes that build assets that increase long-term well-being and financial self-sufficiency. Matched uses of withdrawals typically include home purchase, post-secondary education, and microenterprise. The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between the hours of financial education attended by IDA participants and savings outcomes. The data are from the Downpayments on the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD). The goal of financial education is to make people more aware of financial choices and possible consequences. IDA programs require financial education, but there is no systematic/scientific evidence that this requirement is essential. As of June 30, 2000, 81 percent of the 2,378 participants in ADD had attended general financial-education classes. Most participants (65 percent) had one to twelve hours of attendance recorded, 16 percent had 13 hours or more, and 14 percent were recorded as having no hours. Mean attendance was 10.4 hours, with a low of zero and a high of 35. To measure the association between attendance at financial education and savings outcomes, we used a Heckman two-step regression in which the first step predicted exit from the IDA program (and thus a high likelihood of a low opportunity for attendance at financial education). The second step predicted average monthly net deposit (AMND) for those participants who did not exit, controlling for length of participation and a wide range of other factors that might affect AMND. These results broadly suggest that between 0 and 12 hours of financial education have large, positive effects on savings (in the range of one dollar of AMND for each hour of general financial education up to 12 hours). After that point, the effects leveled off. Results for asset-specific education were similar. In short, financial education seems to have had large effects on savings outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series HEW with number 0108001.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 02 Sep 2001
Date of revision: 27 Dec 2001
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwphe:0108001

Note: Type of Document - Adobe Acrobat 3.0; prepared on Windows 98; to print on Adobe Acrobat 3.0; pages: 18 ; figures: Included in pdf file
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Keywords: education; financial literacy; savings incentives; Individual Development Accounts;

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  1. Patrick J. Bayer & B. Douglas Bernheim & John Karl Scholz, 1996. "The Effects of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Employers," NBER Working Papers 5655, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Thaler, Richard H, 1994. "Psychology and Savings Policies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 186-92, May.
  3. Arthur B. Kennickell & Martha Starr-McCluer & Annika E. Sunden, 1996. "Saving and financial planning: some findings from a focus group," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-1, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett, 1996. "The Determinants and Consequences of Financial Education in the Workplace: Evidence from a Survey of Households," NBER Working Papers 5667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Beverly, Sondra G. & Sherraden, Michael, 1999. "Institutional determinants of saving: implications for low-income households and public policy," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 457-473.
  6. B. Douglas Bernheim & Daniel M. Garrett & Dean M. Maki, 1997. "Education and Saving: The Long-Term Effects of High School Financial Curriculum Mandates," NBER Working Papers 6085, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. B. Douglas Bernheim, 1996. "Rethinking Saving Incentives," Working Papers 96009, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
  8. Jagadeesh Gokhale, 2000. "Are we saving enough?," Economic Commentary, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, issue Jul.
  9. Alan Greenspan, 2001. "The importance of education in today's economy," Proceedings 767, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. Sondra Beverly & Amanda Moore & Mark Schreiner, 2001. "A Framework of Asset-Accumulation Stages and Strategies," Development and Comp Systems 0109004, EconWPA.
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Cited by:
  1. Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Wagner, Kristen & Ssewamala, Fred M., 2006. "Saving and asset accumulation among low-income families with children in IDAs," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 193-211, February.
  2. Andrew Carswell, 2009. "Does Housing Counseling Change Consumer Financial Behaviors? Evidence from Philadelphia," Journal of Family and Economic Issues, Springer, vol. 30(4), pages 339-356, December.
  3. Oliver Williams & Stephen Satchell, 2011. "Social welfare issues of financial literacy and their implications for regulation," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 40(1), pages 1-40, August.
  4. Matthew Martin, 2007. "A literature review on the effectiveness of financial education," Working Paper 07-03, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  5. Angela Hung & Joanne Yoong & Elizabeth Brown, 2012. "Empowering Women Through Financial Awareness and Education," OECD Working Papers on Finance, Insurance and Private Pensions 14, OECD Publishing.
  6. Miller, Margaret & Reichelstein, Julia & Salas, Christian & Zia, Bilal, 2014. "Can you help someone become financially capable ? a meta-analysis of the literature," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6745, The World Bank.
  7. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2011. "Financial education on secondary school students: the randomized experiment revisited," Econometica Working Papers wp34, Econometica.
  8. Xu, Lisa & Zia, Bilal, 2012. "Financial literacy around the world : an overview of the evidence with practical suggestions for the way forward," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6107, The World Bank.
  9. Ian Hathaway & Sameer Khatiwada, 2008. "Do financial education programs work?," Working Paper 0803, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
  10. Rist, Carl & Humphrey, Liana, 2010. "City and community innovations in CDAs: The role of community-based organizations," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 32(11), pages 1520-1527, November.


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