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Remittances and the Problem of Control: A Field Experiment Among Migrants from El Salvador

  • Nava Ashraf
  • Diego Aycinena
  • Claudia Martínez
  • Dean Yang

While remittance flows to developing countries are very large, it is unknown whether migrants desire more control over how remittances are used. This research uses a randomized field experiment to investigate the importance of migrant control over the use of remittances. In partnership with a Salvadoran bank, we offered US-based migrants from El Salvador bank accounts in their home country into which they could send remittances. We randomly varied migrant control over El Salvador-based savings by offering different types of accounts across treatment groups. Migrants offered the greatest degree of control over savings accumulated the most savings at the partner bank, compared to others offered less or no control over savings. Effects of this treatment on savings are concentrated among migrants who expressed demand for control over remittances in the baseline survey. We also find positive spillovers of our savings intervention in the form of increased savings at other banks (specifically, banks in the U.S.). We interpret the effects we find as arising from the joint effect of the bank account offers and the marketing pitch made to study participants by our project staff.

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File URL: http://www.econ.uchile.cl/uploads/publicacion/c656462b3a49e7e526fd2223a0b1678697bfcf55.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Chile, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number wp341.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:udc:wpaper:wp341
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.uchile.cl/

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  1. Nava Ashraf, 2009. "Spousal Control and Intra-household Decision Making: An Experimental Study in the Philippines," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1245-77, September.
  2. Lundberg, Shelly & Pollak, Robert A, 1993. "Separate Spheres Bargaining and the Marriage Market," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(6), pages 988-1010, December.
  3. Lusardi, Annamaria & Mitchell, Olivia S., 2006. "Baby boomer retirement security: The roles of planning, financial literacy, and Housing wealth," CFS Working Paper Series 2006/20, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  4. Andrew D. Foster & Mark R. Rosenzweig, 2001. "Imperfect Commitment, Altruism, And The Family: Evidence From Transfer Behavior In Low-Income Rural Areas," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(3), pages 389-407, August.
  5. Dean Yang, 2004. "Why Do Migrants Return to Poor Countries? Evidence from Philippine Migrants’ Responses to Exchange Rate Shocks," Working Papers 513, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  6. Dean Yang & HwaJung Choi, 2005. "Are Remittances Insurance? Evidence from Rainfall Shocks in the Philippines," Working Papers 535, Research Seminar in International Economics, University of Michigan.
  7. Joyce J. Chen, 2006. "Migration and Imperfect Monitoring: Implications for Intra-Household Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 227-231, May.
  8. Alejandra Cox Edwards & Manuelita Ureta, 2003. "International Migration, Remittances, and Schooling: Evidence from El Salvador," NBER Working Papers 9766, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. McElroy, Marjorie B & Horney, Mary Jean, 1981. "Nash-Bargained Household Decisions: Toward a Generalization of the Theory of Demand," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 22(2), pages 333-49, June.
  10. Marcos A. Rangel, 2006. "Alimony Rights and Intrahousehold Allocation of Resources: Evidence from Brazil," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 116(513), pages 627-658, 07.
  11. repec:idb:brikps:publication-detail,7101.html?id=6778 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Claudia Mart�nez A., 2013. "Intrahousehold Allocation and Bargaining Power: Evidence from Chile," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 61(3), pages 577 - 605.
  13. Claudia Martínez Alvear & Dean Yang, 2007. "Remittances and Poverty in Migrants’ Home Areas: Evidence from the Philippines," Working Papers wp257, University of Chile, Department of Economics.
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