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Saving more in groups: Field experimental evidence from Chile

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  • Kast, Felipe
  • Meier, Stephan
  • Pomeranz, Dina

Abstract

We test the impact of a peer group program on savings in a sample of microcredit clients. We conduct two randomized trials among these 2687 microcredit clients. The first finds that a Savings Group Treatment, which combines public goal setting, monitoring in the group and non-financial rewards, increases savings in a new savings account significantly. The number of deposits grows 3.7-fold and the average balance almost doubles. In contrast, a more classical measure, a substantially increased interest rate, has no effect for most participants and raises the savings balance only for the very top of the distribution. A second experiment, conducted a year later, tests an alternative delivery mechanism and shows that effects of similar size can be achieved through feedback text messages, without meetings, rewards, or peer pressure. Given that participants are borrowing at 90% APR, we discuss how and when saving more could be harmful or beneficial.

Suggested Citation

  • Kast, Felipe & Meier, Stephan & Pomeranz, Dina, 2018. "Saving more in groups: Field experimental evidence from Chile," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 275-294.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:133:y:2018:i:c:p:275-294
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2018.01.006
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    2. Avdeenko, Alexandra & Bohne, Albrecht & Frölich, Markus, 2019. "Linking savings behavior, confidence and individual feedback: A field experiment in Ethiopia," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 122-151.
    3. Beshears, John & Choi, James J. & Harris, Christopher & Laibson, David & Madrian, Brigitte C. & Sakong, Jung, 2020. "Which early withdrawal penalty attracts the most deposits to a commitment savings account?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 183(C).
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    5. Antonia Grohmann & Tabea Lakemann & Helke Seitz, 2020. "Savings Goal Calendars as Soft Commitment Devices: Evidence from Small Business Owners in Uganda," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1919, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    6. Rodríguez, Catherine & Saavedra, Juan E., 2019. "The persistent effects of youth savings reminders: Experimental evidence from text-message campaigns in Colombia," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 135-156.
    7. Janina Isabel Steinert & Rucha Vasumati Satish & Felix Stips & Sebastian Vollmer, 2020. "Commitment or Concealment? Impacts and Use of a Portable Saving Device: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Urban India," Munich Papers in Political Economy 04, TUM School of Governance at the Technical University of Munich.
    8. Zhang, Jinan & Perloff, Jeffrey M. & Lu, Fangwen, 2020. "Informing and inquiring: Experimental evidence on reducing traffic violations," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 147(C).
    9. Robert Dur & Dimitry Fleming & Marten van Garderen & Max van Lent, 2019. "A Social Norm Nudge to Save More: A Field Experiment at a Retail Bank," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 19-063/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    10. Cassidy, Rachel & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2020. "Banker my neighbour: Matching and financial intermediation in savings groups," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C).
    11. Hanna Fromell & Daniele Nosenzo & Trudy Owens & Fabio Tufano, 2019. "One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Plurality of Social Norms and Saving Behavior in Kenya," Discussion Papers 2019-12, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    12. Roll, Stephen & Grinstein-Weiss, Michal & Gallagher, Emily & Cryder, Cynthia, 2020. "Can pre-commitment increase savings deposits? Evidence from a tax-time field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 357-380.
    13. Arvid O. I. Hoffmann & Leonora Risse, 2020. "Do good things come in pairs? How personality traits help explain individuals' simultaneous pursuit of a healthy lifestyle and financially responsible behavior," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(3), pages 1082-1120, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Savings;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • 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
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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