US Finance Initiative

Building better markets for personal finance in the United States

Established in 2009, the US Finance Initiative uses insights from behavioral economics to develop, rigorously evaluate, and scale cost-effective financial products and product innovations that help low- to moderate-income households lead healthier financial lives. 

Why Finance in the US? 

Asset poverty makes households vulnerable to financial shocks such as unemployment and medical emergencies...

 

43.9% of US households have insufficient liquid assets to subsist for three months at the poverty line in the absence of income

83% of liquid asset poor households earn less than $55,000 a year

 

Household savings continue to be inadequate...

 

52% of households reported saving in the past year as of 2010

One in three households does not have a savings account

 

High-interest debt may force households to draw down savings, work more hours, or forgo basic needs...

 

39% of low- and middle-income individuals who had credit cards in 2012 carried more debt than they had three years prior

$10,736 was the average credit card debt held by borrowers in 2012

$858 billion in outstanding revolving debt was borne by American consumers as of November 2012

 

Credit delinquency is rising...

 

43 states saw an increase in the percentage of borrowers who were overdue on their payments by 90 days between 2011 and 2012

56.4% of consumers have subprime credit, which restricts their access to conventional sources of finance

15 million Americans are estimated to have used small dollar credit products like payday and pawn loans in the last year, which may levy effective annual interest rates of 300% or more

 

Our Process

The US Finance Initiative uses behavioral economics insights to inform the design of financial products.

We collaborate with financial institutions and service providers to innovate, implement, and evaluate products that help overcome behavioral barriers to the financial well-being of American households.
 

 

Our Process

1. Innovate

We pilot innovative products to assess demand and sustainability.

2. Evaluate

We conduct randomized controlled trials to assess impact.

3. Replicate

We test these products in new contexts to determine the generalizability and external validity of our findings.

4. Communicate

We disseminate our results to policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders.

5. Scale

We develop resources to facilitate adoption of proven products and product features.
 
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