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Banking the poor via savings accounts: Evidence from a field experiment

Silvia Prina

Journal of Development Economics, 2015, vol. 115, issue C, 16-31

Abstract: In a setting with low penetration of bank accounts, I randomly gave access to bank accounts with zero fees at local bank-branches to a large sample of female household heads in Nepal. The zero fees and physical proximity of the bank led to high take-up and usage rates compared to similar studies in other settings. However, impact on income, aggregate expenditures, and assets are too imprecisely estimated to draw a conclusion. I do find reallocation of expenditures across categories (e.g. more spending on education and meat and fish, and less on health and dowries), and higher ability to cope with shocks. On qualitative outcomes, I find households report that their overall financial situation has improved. The lack of a clear story on mechanisms, yet strong result on aggregate self-perception of financial wellbeing, is consistent with access to quality savings accounts leading to household improvements via multiple mechanisms.

Keywords: Savings accounts; Financial access; Transaction costs (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D14 O16 G21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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