IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/aea/aecrev/v103y2013i4p1138-71.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments

Author

Listed:
  • Pascaline Dupas
  • Jonathan Robinson

Abstract

Using data from a field experiment in Kenya, we document that providing individuals with simple informal savings technologies can substantially increase investment in preventative health and reduce vulnerability to health shocks. Simply providing a safe place to keep money was sufficient to increase health savings by 66 percent. Adding an earmarking feature was only helpful when funds were put toward emergencies, or for individuals that are frequently taxed by friends and relatives. Group-based savings and credit schemes had very large effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1138-1171, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:4:p:1138-71
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.103.4.1138
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.103.4.1138
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june2013/20110911_app.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data/june2013/20110911_data.zip
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Pamela Jakiela & Owen Ozier, 2016. "Does Africa Need a Rotten Kin Theorem? Experimental Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 231-268.
    2. Dean Karlan & Margaret McConnell & Sendhil Mullainathan & Jonathan Zinman, 2016. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(12), pages 3393-3411, December.
    3. Siwan Anderson & Jean-Marie Baland, 2002. "The Economics of Roscas and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 963-995.
    4. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen & Loury, Glenn, 1993. "The Economics of Rotating Savings and Credit Associations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(4), pages 792-810, September.
    5. Mary Kay Gugerty, 2007. "You Can't Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55, pages 251-282.
    6. Pascaline Dupas, 2014. "Short‐Run Subsidies and Long‐Run Adoption of New Health Products: Evidence From a Field Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(1), pages 197-228, January.
    7. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2007. "The Economic Lives of the Poor," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 141-168, Winter.
    8. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
    9. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CSAE Working Paper Series 2011-11, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    10. Shipton, Parker, 1990. "How Gambians save and what their strategies imply for international aid," Policy Research Working Paper Series 395, The World Bank.
    11. Arun G. Chandrasekhar & Cynthia Kinnan & Horacio Larreguy, 2018. "Social Networks as Contract Enforcement: Evidence from a Lab Experiment in the Field," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 43-78, October.
    12. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    13. Abhijit Banerjee & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2010. "The Shape of Temptation: Implications for the Economic Lives of the Poor," NBER Working Papers 15973, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Fafchamps, Marcel; McKenzie; Quinn, Simon; Woodruff, Christopher, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 50, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    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. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Household Decision Making and Savings Impacts: Further Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Working Papers 939, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    17. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-192, January.
    18. Felipe Kast & Stephan Meier & Dina Pomeranz, 2012. "Under-Savers Anonymous: Evidence on Self-Help Groups and Peer Pressure as a Savings Commitment Device," NBER Working Papers 18417, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    19. Alessandro Tarozzi & Aprajit Mahajan & Brian Blackburn & Dan Kopf & Lakshmi Krishnan & Joanne Yoong, 2014. "Micro-loans, Insecticide-Treated Bednets, and Malaria: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial in Orissa, India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 1909-1941, July.
    20. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilova & Jonathan Morduch, 2012. "Behavioral Foundations of Microcredit: Experimental and Survey Evidence from Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1118-1139, April.
    21. Florencia Devoto & Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & William Parienté & Vincent Pons, 2012. "Happiness on Tap: Piped Water Adoption in Urban Morocco," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 68-99, November.
    22. 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, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
    23. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-1277, September.
    24. Anderson, Siwan & Baland, Jean-Marie & Moene, Karl Ove, 2009. "Enforcement in informal saving groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1), pages 14-23, September.
    25. Karna Basu, 2011. "Hyperbolic Discounting and the Sustainability of Rotational Savings Arrangements," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 143-171, November.
    26. Pascaline Dupas & Sarah Green & Anthony Keats & Jonathan Robinson, 2014. "Challenges in Banking the Rural Poor: Evidence from Kenya's Western Province," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development, pages 63-101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    27. Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier, 2006. "Paying Not to Go to the Gym," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 694-719, June.
    28. Jean-Marie Baland & Catherine Guirkinger & Charlotte Mali, 2011. "Pretending to Be Poor: Borrowing to Escape Forced Solidarity in Cameroon," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 1-16.
    29. Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2007. "You Can't Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 55(2), pages 251-282, January.
    30. Choi, James J. & Madrian, Brigitte & Laibson, David I., 2011. "$100 Bills on the Sidewalk: Violations of No-Arbitrage in 401(k) Accounts," Scholarly Articles 9647368, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
    31. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Dean Karlan & Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan & Jonathan Zinman, 2014. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 60(1), pages 36-78, March.
    2. Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "How general are time preferences? Eliciting good-specific discount rates," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 150-170.
    3. Pascaline Dupas & Sarah Green & Anthony Keats & Jonathan Robinson, 2014. "Challenges in Banking the Rural Poor: Evidence from Kenya's Western Province," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development, pages 63-101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Dalla Pellegrina, Lucia & De Michele, Angela & Di Maio, Giorgio & Landoni, Paolo, 2021. "Fostering savings by commitment: Evidence from a quasi-natural experiment at The Small Enterprise Foundation in South Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 148(C).
    5. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
    6. Steinert, Janina Isabel & Vasumati Satish, Rucha & Stips, Felix & Vollmer, Sebastian, 2022. "Commitment or concealment? Impacts and use of a portable saving device: Evidence from a field experiment in urban India," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 367-398.
    7. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-192, January.
    8. Felipe Kast & Dina Pomeranz, 2013. "Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile," Harvard Business School Working Papers 14-001, Harvard Business School, revised Jun 2014.
    9. Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
    10. Basu, Karna, 2014. "Commitment savings in informal banking markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 97-111.
    11. Pamela Jakiela & Owen Ozier, 2016. "Does Africa Need a Rotten Kin Theorem? Experimental Evidence from Village Economies," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(1), pages 231-268.
    12. Thorsten Beck & Haki Pamuk & Burak R. Uras, 2017. "Entrepreneurial Saving Practices and Reinvestment: Theory and Evidence," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 1205-1228, November.
    13. B. Douglas Bernheim & Debraj Ray & Şevin Yeltekin, 2015. "Poverty and Self‐Control," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83(5), pages 1877-1911, September.
    14. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
    15. Pierre Bachas & Paul Gertler & Sean Higgins & Enrique Seira, 2021. "How Debit Cards Enable the Poor to Save More," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 76(4), pages 1913-1957, August.
    16. Buehren, Niklas, 2011. "Allocating Cash Savings and the Role of Information: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Uganda," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 16, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.
    17. Grant Miller & A. Mushfiq Mobarak, 2013. "Gender Differences in Preferences, Intra-Household Externalities, and Low Demand for Improved Cookstoves," NBER Working Papers 18964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Eun Jin Ryu & Aya Suzuki, 2021. "ROSCAS as Insurance: Comparing Formal and Informal Methods of Saving among the Unskilled Workers in the Ethiopian Cut‐Flower Industry," The Developing Economies, Institute of Developing Economies, vol. 59(3), pages 243-274, September.
    19. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    20. Hisaki Kono & Tomomi Tanaka, 2019. "Does marriage work as a savings commitment device? Experimental evidence from Vietnam," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 14(6), pages 1-18, June.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

    Lists

    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Why Don't the Poor Save More? Evidence from Health Savings Experiments (AER 2013) in ReplicationWiki

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:103:y:2013:i:4:p:1138-71. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Michael P. Albert (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/aeaaaea.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.