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Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346

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  • Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman

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Abstract

The poor can and do save, but often use formal or informal instruments that have high risk, high cost, and limited functionality. This could lead to undersaving compared to a world without market or behavioral frictions. Undersaving can have important welfare consequences: variable consumption, low resilience to shocks, and foregone profitable investments. We lay out five sets of constraints that may hinder the adoption and effective usage of savings products and services by the poor: transaction costs, lack of trust and regulatory barriers, information and knowledge gaps, social constraints, and behavioral biases. We discuss each in theory, and then summarize related empirical evidence, with a focus on recent field experiments. We then put forward key open areas for research and practice.

Suggested Citation

  • Dean Karlan, Aishwarya Lakshmi Ratan, Jonathan Zinman, 2013. "Savings by and for the Poor: A Research Review and Agenda-Working Paper 346," Working Papers 346, Center for Global Development.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgd:wpaper:346
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    1. repec:bla:rdevec:v:21:y:2017:i:4:p:1205-1228 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Ximena Pena & Carmen Hoyo & David Tuesta, 2014. "Determinantes de la inclusion financiera en Mexico a partir de la ENIF 2012," Working Papers 1414, BBVA Bank, Economic Research Department.
    3. Rachel Cassidy & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Can community-based microfinance groups match savers with borrowers? Evidence from rural Malawi," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-13, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Dean Karlan & Leigh Linden, 2014. "Loose Knots: Strong versus Weak Commitments to Save for Education in Uganda," Working Papers 1037, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
    5. Hugo Pablo Rocha Portugal & Diego A. Vera Cossio, 2014. "Cuando las Mujeres son las que Mandan: Efecto del Ahorro en el Empoderamiento de la Mujer Boliviana," Development Research Working Paper Series 06/2014, Institute for Advanced Development Studies.
    6. Gloukoviezoff, Georges, 2016. "Evaluating the impact of European microfinance. The foundations," EIF Working Paper Series 2016/33, European Investment Fund (EIF).
    7. Giorgia Barboni & Alessandra Cassar & Timothee Demont, 2017. "Financial exclusion in developed countries: a field experiment among migrants and low-income people in Italy," Journal of Behavioral Economics for Policy, Society for the Advancement of Behavioral Economics (SABE), vol. 1(2), pages 39-49, September.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Savings; Randomized Evaluation; Poverty;

    JEL classification:

    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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