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Banking the poor via savings accounts: Evidence from a field experiment

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  • Prina, Silvia

Abstract

In a setting with low penetration of bank accounts, I randomly gave access to bank accounts with zero fees at local bank-branches to a large sample of female household heads in Nepal. The zero fees and physical proximity of the bank led to high take-up and usage rates compared to similar studies in other settings. However, impact on income, aggregate expenditures, and assets are too imprecisely estimated to draw a conclusion. I do find reallocation of expenditures across categories (e.g. more spending on education and meat and fish, and less on health and dowries), and higher ability to cope with shocks. On qualitative outcomes, I find households report that their overall financial situation has improved. The lack of a clear story on mechanisms, yet strong result on aggregate self-perception of financial wellbeing, is consistent with access to quality savings accounts leading to household improvements via multiple mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

  • Prina, Silvia, 2015. "Banking the poor via savings accounts: Evidence from a field experiment," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(C), pages 16-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:115:y:2015:i:c:p:16-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2015.01.004
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Savings accounts; Financial access; Transaction costs;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages

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