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You Can't Save Alone: Commitment in Rotating Savings and Credit Associations in Kenya

  • Gugerty, Mary Kay
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    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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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/508716
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Economic Development and Cultural Change.

    Volume (Year): 55 (2007)
    Issue (Month): 2 (January)
    Pages: 251-82

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:y:2007:v:55:i:2:p:251-82
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/EDCC/

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    1. George-Marios Angeletos, 2001. "The Hyberbolic Consumption Model: Calibration, Simulation, and Empirical Evaluation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(3), pages 47-68, Summer.
    2. Jean-Philippe Platteau, 1997. "Mutual insurance as an elusive concept in traditional rural communities," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(6), pages 764-796.
    3. Stefan Klonner, 2003. "Rotating Savings and Credit Associations When Participants are Risk Averse," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 44(3), pages 979-1005, 08.
    4. 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.
    5. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
    6. Miguel, Edward & Gugerty, Mary Kay, 2005. "Ethnic diversity, social sanctions, and public goods in Kenya," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(11-12), pages 2325-2368, December.
    7. Calomiris, Charles W. & Rajaraman, Indira, 1998. "The role of ROSCAs: lumpy durables or event insurance?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(1), pages 207-216, June.
    8. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
    9. Nava Ashaf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines," Natural Field Experiments 00206, The Field Experiments Website.
    10. Kimuyu, Peter Kiko, 1999. "Rotating Saving and Credit Associations in Rural East Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(7), pages 1299-1308, July.
    11. Levenson, Alec R. & Besley, Timothy, 1996. "The anatomy of an informal financial market: Rosca participation in Taiwan," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 45-68, October.
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