You Can’t Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya
This article examines one reason why individuals develop and maintain local-level financial savings organizations known as rotating savings and credit organizations, or Roscas. Economic theories suggest that individuals form Roscas to finance the purchase of a lumpy durable good, in response to intrahousehold conflict over savings, or to provide themselves with insurance. The article proposes an additional hypothesis for Rosca participation: saving requires discipline, and some Roscas may be formed to provide a collective mechanism for commitment in the presence of time-inconsistent preferences. Data from 70 Roscas located in western Kenya indicate that the commitment hypothesis is plausible and broadly consistent with the design and patterns of participation in these Roscas. As many Rosca participants put it, “You can’t save alone.”
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