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Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines

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Listed:
  • Ashraf, Nava
  • Karlan, Dean S.
  • Yin, Wesley

Abstract

We designed a commitment savings product for a Philippine bank and implemented it using a randomized control methodology. The savings product was intended for individuals who want to commit now to restrict access to their savings, and who were sophisticated enough to engage in such a mechanism. We conducted a baseline survey on 1777 existing or former clients of a bank. One month later, we offered the commitment product to a randomly chosen subset of 710 clients; 202 (28.4 percent) accepted the offer and opened the account. In the baseline survey, we asked hypothetical time discounting questions. Women who exhibited a lower discount rate for future relative to current tradeoffs, and hence potentially have a preference for commitment, were indeed significantly more likely to open the commitment savings account. After twelve months, average savings balances increased by 81 percentage points for those clients assigned to the treatment group relative to those assigned to the control group. We conclude that the savings response represents a lasting change in savings, and not merely a short-term response to a new product.

Suggested Citation

  • Ashraf, Nava & Karlan, Dean S. & Yin, Wesley, 2005. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," Center Discussion Papers 28411, Yale University, Economic Growth Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:yaleeg:28411
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    File URL: http://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/28411/files/dp050917.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    5. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 251-278, October.
    6. Uri Benzion & Amnon Rapoport & Joseph Yagil, 1989. "Discount Rates Inferred from Decisions: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 35(3), pages 270-284, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Dohmen, Thomas, 2014. "Behavioral labor economics: Advances and future directions," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 71-85.
    2. Stephanie Moulton & C├Ązilia Loibl & Anya Samak & J. Michael Collins, 2013. "Borrowing Capacity and Financial Decisions of Low-to-Moderate Income First-Time Homebuyers," Journal of Consumer Affairs, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(3), pages 375-403, November.
    3. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlin & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," NBER Working Papers 11892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Laajaj, Rachid, 2012. "Closing the Eyes on a Gloomy Future: Psychological Causes and Economic Consequences," 2012 Annual Meeting, August 12-14, 2012, Seattle, Washington 123933, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    5. Berg, Nathan & Kim, Jeong-Yoo, 2010. "Demand for Self Control: A model of Consumer Response to Programs and Products that Moderate Consumption," MPRA Paper 26593, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. repec:eee:joepsy:v:66:y:2018:i:c:p:45-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:deveco:v:127:y:2017:i:c:p:187-208 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Financial Economics;

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