English
If smokers are well aware of the negative impacts of smoking, why don’t they quit? While nicotine substitutes and counseling have been dominant in smoking cessation programs in developed countries, these programs are costly and often not accessible for the rural poor in developing countries. Researchers Xavier Giné, Dean Karlan, and Jonathan Zinman designed an alternative approach: a commitment contract that provides financial incentives for smokers to quit. The CARES product (Committed Action to Reduce and End Smoking) was introduced and evaluated in the Philippines. The researchers find evidence supporting its effectiveness, offer suggestions on future research and recommendations on how to improve smoking cessation programs.
 
Full published paper is available here.
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Brief
Date:
December 01, 2008
English

The group liability contract feature is often named as key to the growth in lending markets for the poor. Group liability purports to improve repayment rates by providing incentives for peers to screen, monitor and enforce each other’s loans. However, group liability may create excessive pressure and discourage good clients from borrowing, jeopardizing both growth and sustainability. A Philippine bank removed group liability from randomly selected group-screened lending groups. After three years, we find no increase in default and larger groups, thus showing that banks can do just as well as peers at monitoring and enforcing loans and generating high repayment rates.

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Working Paper
Date:
January 01, 2008
English

We designed a commitment savings product for a Philippine bank and implemented it using a randomized control methodology. The savings product was intended for individuals who want to commit now to restrict access to their savings, and who were sophisticated enough to engage in such a mechanism. We conducted a baseline survey on 1777 existing or former clients of a bank. One month later, we offered the commitment product to a randomly chosen subset of 710 clients; 202 (28.4 percent) accepted the offer and opened the account. In the baseline survey, we asked hypothetical time discounting questions. Women who exhibited a lower discount rate for future relative to current trade-offs, and hence potentially have a preference for commitment, were indeed significantly more likely to open the commitment savings account. After twelve months, average savings balances increased by 81 percentage points for those clients assigned to the treatment group relative to those assigned to the control group. We conclude that the savings response represents a lasting change in savings, and not merely a short-term response to a new product.

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Published Paper
Date:
May 01, 2006
English

Informal lending and savings institutions exist around the world, and often include regular door-to-door deposit collection of cash. Some banks have adopted similar services in order to expand access to banking services in areas that lack physical branches. Using a randomized control trial, we investigate determinants of participation in a deposit collection service and evaluate the impact of offering the service for micro-savers of a rural bank in the Philippines. Of 137 individuals offered the service in the treatment group, 38 agreed to sign-up, and 20 regularly used the service. Take-up is predicted by distance to the bank (a measure of transaction costs of depositing without the service) as well as being married (a suggestion that household bargaining issues are important). Those offered the service saved 188 pesos more (which equates to about a 25% increase in savings stock) and were slightly less likely to borrow from the bank.

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Published Paper
Date:
May 01, 2006

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