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Tying odysseus to the mast: Evidence from a commitment savings product in the philippines

  • Dean Karlan
  • Nava Ashaf
  • Wesley Yin

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.

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Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00206.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00206
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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  1. John List, 2006. "The behavioralist meets the market: Measuring social preferences and reputation effects in actual transactions," Natural Field Experiments 00300, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. 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 S164-S187, February.
  3. Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Is there a Daily Discount Rate? Evidence from the Food Stamp Nutrition Cycle," Microeconomics 0304005, EconWPA, revised 21 Apr 2003.
  4. Marjorie K. Shelley, 1993. "Outcome Signs, Question Frames and Discount Rates," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(7), pages 806-815, July.
  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 S251-78, October.
  6. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  7. 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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  1. Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines (QJE 2006) in ReplicationWiki

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