Household Decision Making and Savings Impacts: Further Evidence from a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines

Commitment devices for savings could benefit those with self-control as well as familial or spousal control issues. We find evidence to support both motivations. We examine the impact of a commitment savings product in the Philippines on household decision making power and self- perception of savings behavior, as well as actual savings. The product leads to more decision making power in the household for women, and likewise more purchases of female-oriented durable goods. We also find that the product leads women who appear time-inconsistent in a baseline survey to self-report being a disciplined saver in the follow-up survey. For impact on savings balances, we find that the 81% increase in savings after one year did not crowd out savings held outside of the participating bank, but that the longer-term impact over two and a half years on bank savings dissipated to only a 33% increase, which is no longer statistically significant. We discuss reasons why the effect dissipated and the implications for designing and implementing sustainable, equilibrium-shifting interventions.

Ashraf, Karlan and Yin (2006)Rural: greater Butuan City.RCT.Treatment group received a lock box for their savings that they were not allowed to open until they had met their savings goals.Household savings increased by 81% after one year (without crowding out other savings). Decision-making power also increased significantly in the treatment group (especially among married women with below-median decision-making power pre-intervention). After 32 months, administrative data indicate that the effect on household savings was no longer significant.,777 Green Bank clients (1,635 in follow-up) with savings accounts in two branches with identifiable addresses. 60% female and 77% married.