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Access to Banking, Savings and Consumption Smoothing in Rural India

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Abstract

Access to formal banking is increasing across the world and may transform how people manage their finances. We report from a field experiment that randomly provides access to a bank account to a representative sample of villagers in rural India. The treated respondents save actively into the account and their individual savings increase. There is, however, no signi cant impact on mean household savings nor on average expenditures, income, loans or transfers. Based on weekly data from financial diaries, we show the control households partially smooth consumption through transfers received from others. The treated households smooth consumption (and nutrition) better than the control households, thanks to pro-cyclical saving on the account. The latter result provides an important new insight into the role of banking in low and middle-income countries.

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  • Vincent Somville & Lore Vandewalle, 2019. "Access to Banking, Savings and Consumption Smoothing in Rural India," IHEID Working Papers 09-2019, Economics Section, The Graduate Institute of International Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:gii:giihei:heidwp09-2019
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • 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
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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