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Just a few cents each day: can fixed regular deposits overcome savings constraints?

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  • John, Anett

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that there is a high demand for informal savings mechanisms even though these often feature negative returns - such as deposit collectors, ROSCAs, microloans, and informal borrowing. This paper argues that individuals may face even higher negative returns to saving at home due to hyperbolic discounting and claims on savings by relatives. I outline a model that shows why hyperbolic discounters cannot reach their welfare-maximising level of savings, and why a commitment savings product with fixed period contributions can increase their achievable savings level. Using a novel dataset obtained from a small microfinance institution in Bangladesh, the paper then presents some first empirical evidence on the effects of a commitment savings product with fixed regular instalments. I find that the introduction of the regular saver product was associated with an increase in individuals’ savings contributions of 180 percent after a periods of five months. The paper concludes that the provision of commitment savings products with fixed contributions may reduce savings constraints and increase individuals’ welfare, providing a substitute for costly informal mechanisms. However, since the data originates from a field study with self-selection problems rather than a randomized controlled experiment, further studies are needed to confirm this effect.

Suggested Citation

  • John, Anett, 2014. "Just a few cents each day: can fixed regular deposits overcome savings constraints?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 58103, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  • Handle: RePEc:ehl:lserod:58103
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    File URL: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/58103/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages 164-187, February.
    2. Esther Duflo, 2001. "Schooling and Labor Market Consequences of School Construction in Indonesia: Evidence from an Unusual Policy Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 795-813, September.
    3. Dean Karlan & Margaret McConnell & Sendhil Mullainathan & Jonathan Zinman, 2016. "Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(12), pages 3393-3411, December.
    4. Brune, Lasse & Gine, Xavier & Goldberg, Jessica & Yang, Dean, 2011. "Commitments to save : a field experiment in rural Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5748, The World Bank.
    5. Michal Bauer & Julie Chytilova & Jonathan Morduch, 2012. "Behavioral Foundations of Microcredit: Experimental and Survey Evidence from Rural India," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 1118-1139, April.
    6. Morduch, Jonathan, 1999. "Between the State and the Market: Can Informal Insurance Patch the Safety Net?," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 14(2), pages 187-207, August.
    7. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    8. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    9. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard Thaler, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
    10. Ashraf Nava & Karlan Dean & Yin Wesley, 2006. "Deposit Collectors," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(2), pages 1-24, March.
    11. Basu, Karna, 2014. "Commitment savings in informal banking markets," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 97-111.
    12. David Laibson, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-478.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    commitment savings; hyperbolic discounting; Bangladesh;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics

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