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Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile

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  • Felipe Kast
  • Dina Pomeranz

Abstract

Poverty is often characterized not only by low and unstable income, but also by heavy debt burdens. We find that reducing barriers to saving through access to free savings accounts decreases participants' short-term debt by about 20%. In addition, participants who experience an economic shock have less need to reduce consumption, and subjective well-being improves significantly. Precautionary savings and credit therefore act as substitutes in providing self-insurance, and participants prefer borrowing less when a free formal savings account is available. Take-up patterns suggest that requests by others for participants to share their resources may be a key obstacle to saving.

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  • Felipe Kast & Dina Pomeranz, 2014. "Saving More to Borrow Less: Experimental Evidence from Access to Formal Savings Accounts in Chile," NBER Working Papers 20239, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20239
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    Cited by:

    1. Dupas, Pascaline & Karlan, Dean S. & Robinson, Jonathan & Ubfal, Diego, 2016. "Banking the Unbanked? Evidence from three countries," CEPR Discussion Papers 11420, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Sonia Di Giannatale & María José Roa, 2016. "Formal Saving in Developing Economies: Barriers, Interventions, and Effects," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 8107, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Catalina Granda & Franz Hamann & Cesar E. Tamayo, 2017. "Credit and Saving Constraints in General Equilibrium: Evidence from Survey Data," Borradores de Economia 1002, Banco de la Republica de Colombia.
    4. Buvinic, Mayra & Furst-Nichols, Rebecca, 2014. "Promoting women's economic empowerment : what works ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7087, The World Bank.
    5. Sonia Di Giannatale & María José Roa, 2016. "Formal Saving in Developing Economies: Barriers, Interventions, and Effects," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 97397, Inter-American Development Bank.
    6. Carolina Laureti, 2017. "Why do Poor People Co-hold Debt and Liquid Savings?," Working Papers CEB 17-007, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Marc Labie & Carolina Laureti & Ariane Szafarz, 2016. "Discipline and Flexibility: A Behavioral Perspective on Product Design in Microfinance," Working Papers CEB 15-020, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    8. repec:eee:deveco:v:130:y:2018:i:c:p:145-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Campos,Francisco Moraes Leitao & Goldstein,Markus P. & Mckenzie,David J. & Campos,Francisco Moraes Leitao & Goldstein,Markus P. & Mckenzie,David J., 2015. "Short-term impacts of formalization assistance and a bank information session on business registration and access to finance in Malawi," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7183, The World Bank.
    10. Emily Breza & Arun G. Chandrasekhar, 2015. "Social Networks, Reputation and Commitment: Evidence from a Savings Monitors Experiment," NBER Working Papers 21169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D14 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Saving; Personal Finance
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making
    • G22 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Insurance; Insurance Companies; Actuarial Studies
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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